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My Big Night(s) Out at Mangia Nashville

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Experience your own Big Night with Chef Nick Pellegrino at Mangia Nashville.

Mangia Nashville has been named Nashville’s Best Weekly Food Event by the The Nashville Scene. I’m going to pass over the fact that it might well be the ONLY Weekly Food Event in Nashville, in order to tell you that in my opinion, it’s an honor well-deserved! Mangia Nashville is spectacular!

What is Mangia Nashville? On its Facebook page, Mangia Nashville describes itself as “an authentic, New York family-style Italian dining experience”. In the words of chef Nick Pellegrino, Mangia Nashville is like a big, joyous Italian wedding, without all the annoying relatives! There is great food, and a real communal spirit: it’s like going to the best party you’ve ever been to. I felt like one of my favorite movies of all time, The Big Night, had come to life, and I was one of the very blessed participants.

Nick directing his “ballerinas”: aka his talented servers.

And here’s the thing: Mangia Nashville does no advertising! It’s been going strong for over a year now, strictly through word of mouth, and a Facebook page. But once you’ve been there, you will completely understand why advertising hasn’t been necessary. With Nick acting as both chef and fun-loving emcee, it’s the kind of celebratory evening you’re going to want to repeat again, and again.

Dinner and Dancing: Mama Loves Mambo
Not only can Nick cook and sing, he’s a mighty fine dancer, too.
That’s me “mambo”-ing on the left, Nick dancing with one his beautiful servers on the right.

Here’s the catch, though (but I think it’s a GOOD catch): Nick and Mangia Nashville are only serving on Friday and Saturday nights. Seatings are at 8:00 on Friday and 6:00 on Saturday. Both times my husband I went on a Friday night, and since dinner is not served until 8:00, it was challenging to not snack beforehand. Nevertheless, and I’ll say this loudly, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU ARRIVE HUNGRY. You will be served enough food to feed an entire starving Third World Nation. So, wear your eatin’ clothes, if you know what I mean. No tight pants, or you’ll be sorry, and you’ll only have yourself to blame, because I warned you! We arrived at 8:00, and we didn’t leave until 11:30, both Fridays, so three and a half hours would be a good ballpark figure for the amount of time you should plan to be there.

Why such a long evening?

The menu is changed seasonally and is prix fixe ($45.00): one fee for all 5 courses. There are appetizers (antipasti), salads (insalata),  pastas, entrées (entrata), and desserts (dolce): and yes, all those words were plural), and this spring, those 5 courses contained fourteen separate dishes. Each dish, down to the zucchini, was absolutely delicious. PACE YOURSELF! ASK FOR TO-GO BOXES, as you go, throughout the evening. You’ll thank me later for telling you this.

My favorite appetizer: Fried Green Olives Stuffed with Fresh Mozzarella.
A closeup on those fried stuffed olives: crisp, briny, creamy. Oh, yeah.
A second appetizer: Bruschetta With Housemade Ricotta, Spring Peas and Fresh Mint

You want to be able to taste and ENJOY each and every delicious course.

Shell Pasta with Beef Rib Bolognese

No wine can be purchased on the premises, but you can bring your own bottle, for a $5.00 corkage fee.

Here’s a link to the spring menu, and a few more photos of dessert as well. For directions and reservations, check out the link to the Facebook page. Be advised that they’ll be changing over to the summer menu very soon. Also be advised that reservations can be hard to come by: they tend to fill up a month or two in advance, due to doing only two seatings a week.

One of my upcoming posts will be an interview with Nick, so, stay tuned.

So Addictive!  Zeppole: a lot like beignets, or Italian doughnut holes. Served fresh and hot: they’re meltingly delicious! And they come in a “to go” bag, if you’re too full.

Nick presents the Dolce: a platter of Ricotta Cheesecakes.

I didn’t receive one blessed thing as compensation for writing this article (apart from having two great dining/partying experiences – but we paid for those ourselves). We just feel that strongly about this wonderful restaurant.

All comments are doted on. Especially if you’re local: let Nick and me know you saw this! And feel free to share on Facebook and Twitter, if you’d like to do Nick a favor. It’s an offer you can’t refuse, after all.