a Mano, in pictures

As the heat and humidity of summer drag on, a Mano’s regional Italian summer menus are in full swing (here’s the week by week list).

I thoroughly enjoyed the Campania-themed menu recently, so I wasn’t surprised to find that the Times-Picayune’s Brett Anderson had awarded a Mano four beans (the local equivalent of stars; read the review here) in last Friday’s review.

Pictured at left is the Campania antipasto sampler, including an eggplant-stuffed tomato, a napoletana sausage, artichoke hearts, fried provolone, olives, and tomato braised eggplant.  (I was surprised by the starter’s size, wondering how I possibly might keep pace with three generous courses, and a bit sad knowing that I’d never make it to dessert.)

The regional menus are complemented by a changing list of regional wines, with good by-the-glass selections.  The Campanian list made for interesting reading (and drinking), with a fair amount of overlap from Ancora’s wine list, which also emphasizes the beautiful, volcanic-soil region around Naples.  I enjoyed a Greco di Tufa, which always reminds me of eating and drinking on the Amalfi Coast; and who doesn’t want to be reminded of the Amalfi Coast?

I chose a seafood salad for my primi piatti, and it arrived as the picture of Italian restraint.  Cool boiled potatoes, squid, octopus, and shrimp in a whisper of oil and vinegar, garnished with celery leaves:  the antithesis of an ordinary American over-dressed, mayo-based seafood salad.  It tasted like a cool, briny breeze on a hot day at the beach.

Such substantial antipasto and primi meant that I couldn’t finish my pasta course, a tangy puttanesca dotted with fat capers, toasted breadcrumbs, crowning a sauce rich with anchovies and tomato.  (When confronted with a dish containing capers, I am powerless to resist.)

(Of course, I didn’t have room for dessert.)

The regional weekly menus continue through the end of September; this week features Abruzzo/Molise.  I’m sad that I wasn’t able to sample last week’s Rome/Lazio specials, but I just might make reservations for Sardinia, Sicily, or Tuscany…..

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