Return to Eataly: can’t beat the gnocchi at Manzo

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Today was the first day of my second week at work and my company kicked off the week with a nice dinner boat cruise on Lake Michigan. I have to admit, as much as New York represents that beacon of opportunity and dreams, Chicago’s also got a pretty nice skyline. I might even like it more.

Anyways, today’s evening reminded me of nice things. Nice things I like: good food, good company, good reading, and good design. Which includes my indulgences lately. I bought myself a voluspa candle in Black Figue and Chypre. I got into these candles after I bought a small votive voluspa at a local home goods store in Hyde Park. These are really a step up from your typical candle. The scents don’t come on too strong, which means they won’t give you a headache but are nonetheless really pleasant smelling.

But, I didn’t write this entry to plug voluspa, as much as I like them. I wanted to remember another really nice evening I had. It’s funny how nice evenings just kind of happen and there’s nothing forced about them. They’re the evenings where you just happen to have no specific plans, and you go with the flow and everything turns out perfectly.

It kind of starts like this, you have an idea of where you’d like to eat and you just happen to be in the neighborhood. You stop by a place and they just so happen to have a spot for you. Then, having never been there before, you just happen to order something that’s really tasty. And you just happen to order just the right amount of food such that you’re not overflowing, but satiated. To finish off the evening, you see movie, that’s not the best movie ever, but it’s lighthearted enough that you have a happy buzz to end the evening with and head home. That was the kind of night we took a trip to Eataly and had dinner at Manzo.

I remember starting that day off with a trip to Chelsea to have a brief catch up with a friend. And we kind of just wandered our way to Eataly and decided to go for Manzo.

Well, Manzo was a really lovely experience, and it’s nice because instead of jockeying for seating in Eataly when you arrive, you can actually make reservations.

Ray and I ordered veal sweetbreads with lobster, peas and pancetta vinaigrette.
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Pardon the blurry photographs.

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So I have apparently had sweetbreads before this time, (for those of you who haven’t been introduced, sweetbreads are the glands including pancreas, thymust, etc) but Ray hadn’t, so we decided to try them together. I was under the impression that they’d be something like liver, kind of tough and a little grainy. However, that’s not the case, at least not at Manzo. They were so tender and succulent like, well, veal. The lobster also paired really well. In fact, I was surprised at how light it was, compared to the heavy meat dish I was expecting.

After that, we got my favorite gnocchi I’ve ever eaten. It was Gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce & fresh ricotta.
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To be quite honest, I still don’t quite fully understand why it was so good. It was such a simple dish! Just plain tomato sauce with basil over gnocchi. But, it was so good! So good that I want to weep over how simple but deliciously good it was. It still boggles my mind. For example, the sauce was absolutely perfect tomato sauce. It had that bright sourness from the tomato with hints of basil seasoned over it, yet it was just so wonderfully buttery. I spent a couple of tries at home trying to recreate this tomato sauce. Ultimately, after a little research, I did find out that the key to a good tomato sauce is in the soup stock you use (preferably a really really fatty chicken stock). Then, the gnocchi was cooked to just the right softness. Al dente at it’s best. It was just chewy enough that you felt like you were eating something substantial, but soft enough that it felt like it just melted in your mouth together with that delicious tomato sauce.

So of course we were going to get dessert. But, we also got a cheese sampling.

For dessert, we got Bomboloni
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Not the best I’ve had, but still quite tasty. Reminded me of the doughnut holes that went with the foie-sting at Next: Childhood.

And who could say no to a little bit of cheese?
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I can’t remember what they were. One of them was a soft ripened cheese.

Again, I guess it’s always a good day when Ray wears his graphic tees.
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