The focus of Italian-inspired bar and kitchen Mani is small plates, cheese and meat platters, and classic pasta dishes. There’s also breakfast and Crosby Coffee, from just up the Lane, with everything made from scratch – such as hand-stretched pizzettes – and seasonal menus.
If you’ve got an appetite, check out the pasta. Rigatoni (a kind of fat penne) is teamed with confit chicken thigh while the spaghetti carbonara is made using guanciale, an Italian cured pork, and no cream, as is right and proper. Vegetarians can get their fill with the likes of wild mushroom bucatini sprinkled with truffle (so technically not vegan, whatever the menu says) or a roast beetroot and goat’s cheese risotto, plus various salads and tapas-sized dishes – we’re tempted by the harissa cauliflower croquetta with homemade aioli and the plant-based seaweed-marinated oyster mushroom number. Thinking of the sea, add a little luxury to your life with the ravioli – it’s stuffed with lobster tail and served in zuppa di aragosta, a kind of bisque – and if it’s fish you fancy, check out the small plates. Seared scallops are set off with crisp samphire and a punchy basil oil, charred octopus comes with a pot of warm bagna càuda – a dip made from garlic and anchovies, originally from Piedmont – and there’s also frito misto, made using the catch of the day. The mini pizzas have gluten-free options and flavours including classics like margarita and capriciossa, plus less familiar names like Valtellina, christened after a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland, and featuring cured beef fillet, Parmesan cheese and arugula (rocket to you and me). Perfect with the fruity Nero d’Avola red or natural Trebbiano white – one of two orange wines on the list.
Also gluten-free, and also vegan, is the chocolate mousse with Morello cherries and a biscuit tuille. Other dolce choices include a traditional tiramisu as well as a cannoli – the filling changes weekly, so just ask, although, frankly, whatever it is, we’re having it.
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