Mancinnis gives new meaning to Italian food.
If you’re the type of person whose favorite food is pizza, you should head to Mancinnis Coal Oven Pizza on Bloomfield Ave. After passing the hidden gem, it wasn’t until I was on the opposite side of the avenue when I spotted “Coal Oven Pizza” titling the shop and “Mancinnis” in the window front. Tucked away between the Montclair Wine Cellar and Crane Town Treasures, do not make the mistake of passing up this anything-but-ordinary restaurant.
Entering Mancinnis, I first walked in to a charming seating area. For the first time I can say, this is a pizza place I would come for the atmosphere, as well as the food. Mancinnis has a vibe that invites you to sit and welcomes those who are in a relaxed, no-rush, time frame. Mancinnis may pride themselves for their coal oven pizza, but if I was given rights of design, their sign would read: Artfully Designed Decadent Pizza. I’m sure they would dismiss my suggestion, only due to the modesty of the most likable staff.
I was hesitant to my choice for lunch because the selections all seemed to be of liking. When given a choice between unique slices such as fresh vegetables or a slice with fennel and sausage, what would you choose? It doesn’t help that the menu contains salads such as the Herb Salad with arugula, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, goat cheese, raisin bread,and house dressing for $9.50, or the Kale Salad with raw kale, roasted beets and pumpkin seeds for $9.
I was heading into a dark state of anxiety when the nicest of the staff made a few suggestions. She suggested the fennel and sausage slice, because it was a special, and the kale salad. I did not deliberate any further, followed her suggestions but made one change by adding the vegetable slice to the order as well. At only $2.50 a slice, I couldn’t resist the vegetables that seemed to be added unsparingly.
After chatting about Australia, my slices were heated and my salad was made-to-order, and I was ready to indulge. If you have already forgotten, my new slogan for Mancinnis was “Artfully Designed Decadent Pizza,” and here is why. The first bite of my fennel and sausage slice was beyond the taste of anything I’ve had before. I didn’t even know what fennel was before my visit, and sure enough it was a taste that I had wished . I thought the vegetable slice would lack that cheesy element that pizza is associated with, but I was very wrong. The sauce was a bit sharper than regular marinara sauce; I can imagine it was a secret recipe. The vegetables were cut big but still different in every bite; the crispy crust I’m sure is from that coal oven.
Now if you can imagine two huge slices of pizza, I describe them as decadent even though this word is not your usual association with pizza. With a salad large enough to feed three, you may think I was sharing this food, bringing it home to my family to have a taste, but when you taste something this good, you get a little selfish.
I ate those two slices in one sitting, savoring each bite, back and forth between the two. I then hid my kale salad in a drawer in the fridge at home where miscellaneous items tend to go, so I knew no one would look find it. Being too full is saddening when all you think about is food that you have kept waiting. So before I left for school the following morning, I grabbed my salad, and guarded it wherever my day took me. It rested on the seat of my car, thinking if should buckle it in with the seatbelt. It was on my mind from the walk to my first course to my last.
At last, I finally reached the destination of my grandparents’ kitchen table, unwrapped my kale salad and began to frantically eat bite after bite, barely conversing throughout. Now some people might see a large serving of food in front of them and adopt the mentality of “their eyes are bigger than their stomachs,” but even if this was my case, I did not stop myself after my stomach started to feel full. Taste after taste, each bite got more decadent: a taste with a beet here, then a bite with pumpkin seeds, then all three.
When I was sadly scooping the last of the seeds onto my final bite, I saw my grandmother’s astonishment. She could not believe I had finished that whole salad. Sitting back, letting out my first breath since the start, I can only thank Mancinnis for bringing me the comfort of a healthy satisfaction.
Next time, I will be starting with that herb salad, but this time may opt for a sandwich, such as the Veg: fresh mozzarella, tapenade, roasted red pepper and artichoke, with salad greens on a house made roll. I know whichever option I choose or if I choose to “Make Your Own” pizza, I’m choosing satisfaction.
Head to Mancinnis to dine, for their “coal oven pizza” and for it’s wildly underrated value of decadence.