It's hard for me to describe Mandola's Italian Market because it's really three or four different things. Let's call it an Italian Foods Department Store. You have your dry goods; your baked goods; your sweets; your wines; and my favorite the restaurant itself. This just gives you many reasons to make that drive. Perhaps you want some good olive oil? Or maybe you just crave a nice cold gelato? That perfect wine for dinner? Even dinner. Really the only thing they don't offer is a quiet, romantic evening. You'll know that as soon as you walk in and see the "adult" and "kids" tables throughout the dining room. Well that and it's well lit. Like operating room bright which makes sense if you're going to be looking at cheese or having then slice up some salumie. I think the best thing about Mandola's Italian Market is it's run by a happy family. All the kids were running around keeping the tables cleared and clean, all the cooks were cooking and the counter help was cheerful and pleasant. I've been to a few Italian restaurants that more resemble the TV show Jersey Shore with the yelling at staff and generally unpleasant feel. Thank you Mandola's for not following that crowd.
Tonight I ordered the Diavola pizza and Steph had the Tortellini Moda Mia. Normally we would have picked a wine but tonight we just wanted sodas. It's just been so hot and dry that I don't think about wine as much. Perhaps when the weather cools off. And they do have a large selection. It didn't take long for the food to arrive and they were pretty busy when we walked in so I was a bit surprised. Their pizza isn't very big but it doesn't cost that much either so we'll call it a personal fat man pizza or perfect for two skinny girls. The kind that are about the size of my leg. Honestly if you had three people then two pizzas would probably be perfect. I think it's just an Italian mother thing to make sure we had enough. The pizza comes out on a cutting board sliced in blocks. They use a thin cracker crust with a marinara sauce, not too much, and then pile on capicola, tangy cherry peppers, plenty of red pepper flake, caramelized onions and a few other things then give it a light but adequate sprinkling of mozzarella and Romano cheese. I love this pizza for it's distinctive tangy bite. Those cherry peppers take me back to a sandwich shop I used to like long ago and I've never lost that taste for them. The crust is nice a crispy and the sauce makes itself known but doesn't overpower. Really, this would be a more balanced pizza without those cherry peppers. We'll call them the star of the stage. They just can't be overlooked.
Steph had the Tortellini Moda Mia. It comes in a large bowl with plenty of everything. The tortellinis are filled with chicken, pork, mortadella, ricotta and Parmigiano cheese and then a big ladle of cream sauce is poured over them along with some peas and mushrooms. I didn't get a play by play on this dish aside from hearing her say, Mmmmmm every now and then as the bowl slowly emptied one fork at a time. She did say later that she loved the dish and it was as rich as it looked. Look for her take on it at She's Fed Up In Austin when she gets around to writing about it. Should be in the next week or two.
As I mentioned before they have a whole section of baked goods and gelato for dessert. We were full from the meal so we didn't try anything but I can guarantee we'll hit it on the next trip.