Delicious Italian classics with a Friulian greeting
By Hattie Fisher
MandI Mandi is a classic Italian restaurant in a hole-in-the-wall location on Fumin Road, just past the intersection with Julu Road. The tiny restaurant markets itself as a “BarCoffee-Ice Cream shop”. It is all that and more: a veritable oasis of Italian cuisine with a warm and inviting space for guests to enjoy their meals. The whole space is covered in modern wooden paneling, with black and orange accents; black chairs and barstools are paired with orange booths, which are decorated with pillows for customers’ comfort. The space is small — four tables and about ten bar chairs. There is also a limited amount of outside seating — a couple of wooden box stools and a glass table that are perfect for a summer evening of sharing wine or gelato with friends.
Steven Venturini, the owner of Mandi Mandi, hails from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, one of Italy’s five autonomous regions, and opened his restaurant as a tribute to his homeland. Many of these regions have their own language and culture, and Fruili-Venezia Giulia is no different, as Friulian is spoken throughout the majority of the region. The name of the restaurant is a nod to his homeland; in Friulian, “mandi mandi” is the common way to say hello.
In further homage to Venturini’s Fruilian motherland, Mandi Mandi’s kitchen turns out traditional, housemade Italian classics. The menu, while small, includes crowd pleasers like homemade lasagna and gnocchi, which is served drenched in either Bolognese or cheese sauce. The menu has a vast array of pastas, with Italian staples like spaghetti pesto y gamberetti and spaghetti carbonara. Mandi Mandi also offers a full complement of other Mediterranean-inspired dishes, including appetizers, salads, paninis, and tramezzini laden with a variety of cheeses, cured meats, and crisp veggies. We sampled the homemade gnocchi ai formaggi, which was absolutely divine. The little potato dumplings were soft and delicious and the cheese sauce was flavorful.
Of course, no meal would be complete without a tasty, Italian treat like tiramisu or, if sweet and frozen is more your style, there’s sugary and fruity gelato. Most of the dishes are also budget friendly — for instance, the gnocchi is only 60 yuan.
In addition to a selection of white and red wines, Mandi Mandi’s menu also offers a variety of other Italian liquors: limoncello, numerous types of grappa, amaretto, sambuca, fernet, and rosolio. The wine is rich and the grappa is strong; exactly what one would expect from any authentic Italian establishment.
If you’re dying for Italian, Mandi Mandi offers a wide spectrum of time-honored Italian classics, both savory and sweet, that will satisfy your appetite and amuse your taste buds. If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the restaurant’s food, just ask any one of the numerous Italian guests who frequent the tiny watering hole for delicious drinks and good eats.