BOAA: Best Italian: Mani
Coming from the East Coast where the amount and quality of Italian restaurants is overwhelming, I was a bit surprised coming to Ann Arbor to find out that the familiar tastes of fresh basil and ripe tomatoes were hard to find. Until I found Mani.
Mani is the most authentic Italian cuisine in this city. After living in Rome and growing up with an Italian Nonna (or grandmother) who practically force fed me homemade marina sauce and gnocchi every Sunday, I feel like I can say I’m a reliable source.
Mani’s pizza crust is simply divine. It is light and airy; just burnt enough. The pieces are small and cute, so that they don’t make you feel bloated after consumption and the ingredients are of high quality. Comparing Mani’s pizza to that of Pizza House or Cottage Inn is impossible because it’s like trying to compare Hershey’s Kisses to the finest artisan Swiss chocolate. Their margherita pizza is comforting and a staple, but their Tartufo, made with egg and black truffle, is decadent and gooey good. Every pizza is yummy in its own way (R.I.P the prosciutto and arugula) and I would definitely suggest the pizza over the pasta.
My favorite hidden gem of Mani is the Vasi appetizer of pickled tomatoes with whipped ricotta and olive tapenade. With crisp, charred bread, the ricotta feels like soft little pillows on your tongue and the tomatoes add the perfect tart bite. Mani is perfect for a dinner or a date, or even when you feel like self-indulging and eating a whole pizza by yourself on a Monday night. Don’t ask me if I’ve done this.