What a spectacular treat yet again for us this Friday afternoon at Mangia’s! Having skipped breakfast amid the blur of activity to get our daughters up and running, me and Jaya ended up craving for lunch earlier that usual and wanted a “disappointment proof” destination (You know – days when you don’t want to take a chance with an untried restaurant, but instead rely on the earned reassurances of a tried & tested place) Then picking out Mangia’s at Bordentown this friday was a no brainer! Part of what draws us to this Bordentown haunt is the warmth and hospitality of the staff you don’t find around anywhere anymore. For a modest establishment in a busy stretch, Mangia goes beyond its calling to serve superior and inventive fare with consistency, finesse and panache. It was a cool autumn afternoon and Isabella welcomed us with a beaming smile as we walked in; Marcello, our favorite chef came by and said hello – we at once felt at home in our corner cozy table and felt genuinely welcomed. As is customary, Friday specials were presented in a neatly handwritten sheet and included a soup, a panini, a wrap, a pasta and a salad special. I was thrilled to see one of my favorites – Italian wedding soup on the list of specials and was eager to try it. From the regular menu, it was hard for Jaya to resist Fried Calamari from the appetizers and so we kicked off the afternoon with these two choices and were served along a basket of hearty rustic bread with butter. The calamari followed soon enough–crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, twas light as a feather and accompanied with a killer marinara sauce bursting with flavor. My Italian wedding soup was fulsome with a stock that suggested melted potatoes and butter. Wasn’t sure if they were as much meatballs as there were bits of sausage – but it worked well with the medley that also contained chopped spinach. For the main course, Jaya’s tuna wrap was tangy and tasty with tuna slivers nestled amongst an assortment of well chosen vegetables. It came as a surprise it was a cold wrap. (We had earlier enjoyed the vegetable wrap – a hot one) and our suggestion is to mention this in the menu. Of course, the star of the afternoon had to be Marcello’s spectacularly moist and juicy Alaskan salmon – grilled to perfection, perfectly finished, and presented in a white wine sauce. We’d enjoyed this entree during our earlier visit and today’s rendition was presented as artfully as before. We lingered for dessert and ordered Mangia’s homemade chocolate mousse. Boy- were we glad to try this winner! Isabella’s recommendation turned out to taste as exquisite and divine as it looked and far exceeded both our expectations (especially as contrasted against our recent chocolate mouse disappointment in another establishment of “reputation”) We both give Mangia’s homemade mousse high marks for texture, finish, freshness and taste. As for the presentation – perhaps a dash of contrasting color like the company of a bright berry? Did we mention the coffee was exceptional? (I would have enjoyed it even better with cream) We both were happy to enjoy the fresh brew that was punctually refreshed at our table. If I were to grade a restaurant, I would bet all my points on consistency of food and its ability to make its patrons feel welcomed. In our books, Mangia earns high marks – every visit for us has been memorable. Sometimes, it discourages me that institutions mouth themselves as serious and venerated establishments dressed up with accoutrements – but instead end up feeling stuffy and pretentious and serving fare not worthy of the climate they purport to create. On the other hand, Mangia in its unlikely setting far exceeds expectations with its high aspiration, star execution and consistent delivery and deserve full praise from us. Click here to view the Lunch on Fridays Blog.