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DINING: Warm, inviting Italian dining with a Tyler that binds

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Dining - A&E

I’ve driven by countless strip-mall eateries without giving them a second glance, but there always has been something about Carmel’s Mangia! (11594 Westfield Blvd., 581-1910) that has drawn my attention. Maybe it’s the exclamation point.

Whatever the draw, I was happy to have an excuse to give it a shot, jumping suburbs with the hubby for dinner at the Italian restaurant on a recent Saturday.

Call it a strip-mall bias, but I never even considered making reservations. Luckily, we were greeted warmly and seated immediately, anyway (and left with owner Lee Tyler’s business card in hand so we could call ahead the next time).

The warm, inviting atmosphere was a pleasant surprise. The large dining area is divided into two rooms that share a see-through fireplace, creating an intimate vibe that’s only enhanced by the dark wood and white tablecloths. And yet Mangia! maintains a casual Mediterranean feel. The food was pretty darn good, too.

Cozze alla Marinara proved a great way to get a Mangia! meal started. (IBJ Photo/Karly Tearney)
We started on a high note, with the Cozze alla Marinara (garlicky mussels served in a tomato broth, for us English-speakers), a relative value at $9. The bowl practically overflowed with sautéed mussels, quality mollusks that went well with the spicy marinara. Our only complaint: We had to ask our server for some bread to sop up the flavorful sauce. But she readily offered up another basket of fresh-baked heaven after we inhaled the first one.

For entrees, we selected one from Column A and one from Column B—in this case pasta and Secondi, hearty meat dishes served with potatoes and veggies.

The Fettucine Monterosso ($16) proved a tasty combination of fettuccine noodles and grilled chicken tossed in a subtle pesto cream sauce and topped with pine nuts. The nuts highlighted the pesto flavor, which was understated enough to not overwhelm.

The Rosticciana ($20), a roasted pork loin stuffed with pancetta and mushrooms and covered in a rosemary demiglace (that’s sauce for us Hoosiers), was well-cooked, keeping its tenderness, and the stuffing downright delightful.

We had an awkward moment stumbling over the Italian dish names—when in doubt, point—but were assisted by the genuinely friendly server and the everyday involvement of a local owner who clearly values his customers.

Tyler introduced himself as we lingered by a wall of photos on our way out, studying the snapshots of happy diners. None appeared to be professional athletes or other local stars. Were they all celebrating a special occasion, perhaps? Not exactly.

They’re Tyler’s regulars—the reservation-making repeat customers who come for birthday dinners and Wednesday dinners, who bring out-of-town visitors and business prospects, who have helped the independent eatery survive for 12 years and counting—the ones who gave Mangia! the exclamation point.•

—Andrea Muirragui Davis

__________

Third in our month-long series of reviews of eateries with exclamation points in their names.

 

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.

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