Mangia & Bevi - amazing pizza
Based on an earlier thread recommending restaurants in the Distillery District area, we've been to Mangia & Bevi twice in recent weeks. Ironically, I have walked by its location on Ontario St, just north of King (and a couple blocks east of Sherbourne) dozens of times and never even knew it existed. I believe it also has a main entrance off of King, but that requires going through an office-building and signage is noticeably lacking. But, after our experiences, I felt this gem needs its own thread to sing its praises.....
We've just tried pizzas and salads here, but have been blown away by the quality ingredients and obvious care which is put into making their food. The piccannte and barese pizzas were particularly outstanding. Thin crust, slightest of char on the underside and delicious. Last visit we tried a mushroom and arugula salad that was tremendous, freshly sauteed mushrooms atop a bed of arugula and asiago which began melting from the heat of the mushrooms as it was served - brilliantly simple and tasty.
Having been to Terroni a few times, with steadily declining results every time (on my last visit the pizza was thinner than a sturdy post-card, and the salads are clearly pre-made giving the frigid temperatures of the plates they are served in), Mangia & Bevi is an incredibly refreshing experience. Unrushed dining experience, friendly service, and a warm loft-like atmosphere. I haven't tried Pizza Libretto yet, but this is the best pizza I have had in Toronto and it's not really that close.
It's a bit of a tough place to find if you don't know where it is, but - isn't that the sign of a true Chowfind?
Restaurant website: www.mbresto.com
I absolutely love this place. I have been going for about 2 years and have tried several of the pizzas...my favourite is the Mediteranea, which has tuna, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes and is topped with arugola. I love the vibe and the owners are always so nice and welcoming. The pastas are also very good in my opinion. I have been many times for business dinners and I love it because you can actually have a conversation and its nice and quiet compared with Libretto. I will say that I think that Librettos appetizers are much better though.
From what I have heard (not from the owners, but from people in my business), their pizzaiolo left a while back to work at Libretto, and then when he left he took his dough recipe with him. The new pizzaiolo came and they experimented with different doughs and it was, in my opinion, better than Librettos.
Just went tonight, and overall I'd say it was very good. Casual atmosphere, good to very good food. Great if you're in the 'hood, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to eat there. Very nice thin crust on the pizzas, toppings were decent, but somewhat unbalanced - there was nowhere near enough bufala mozzarella on one of the pizzas, and the gorgonzola on another completely overwhelmed the sparse sprinkling of cremini mushrooms (although the menu said PORCINI)... Meat and cheese antipastos were pretty decent, but nothing too out of the ordinary (cheese platter, for example, had on it parm, pecorino, smoked provolone, fontina, friulano, and brie - not exactly rare cheeses). That said, I enjoyed the food, and if I was in the 'hood and was feeling like Italian, I would definitely pop in for a bite.
I have to agree with Red Earth, I'd definitely pop in for a bite, but I don't think I'd rush back.
The food was good (although I can't say the pizzas were better than Pizza Libretto) and the braseola appetizer was definitely a highlight. My friend liked that they served the full spectrum of Italian sodas that are sometimes hard to find.
I think my main complaint is that it feels like a lunch spot (which it is), even in the evening. If they dimmed the lights, put out some candles and set the tables, I think it would make the atmosphere warmer and more intimate. To me this was the main thing lacking at M&B.
p.s. if you go to their website, they have a 15% off printable coupon. I brought one with me and then completely forgot to use it...
Shh, people will find this place now and I won't be able to get a table! Just kidding.
I also walked past this place regularly for a year before finally finding it. The pizzas are very good, though they are not all universally perfect: sometimes I wish the tomato sauce had a bit more flavour, and once the bottom of the crust was overdone and tasted a bit burnt. But still they are head and shoulders over 90% of the pizza you find in Toronto.
The room is very warm and welcoming, and there's a pleasant buzz at lunch especially at the long bar with stools where lone diners can grab a good lunch and still feel like part of the crowd. The owners and staff are very friendly and personable.