by Pat Nowak
Valentine’s Day is that special day when everyone wants to impress their sweetheart. Most often, that bonding takes place over a delightful meal while gazing into each other’s eyes. I wanted to know the secrets to great February dining, so I visited with George Mancy from Mancy’s Italian to find out what surprises he uses to produce the perfect meal for that special someone.
As he tells it, Valentine dinners usually begin two days before the actual event, and in the restaurant he serves almost 650 meals that day. The staff at Mancy’s removes all the round tables in the dining room and sets up most tables for two. There is a special menu for two and it includes opportunities to share entrees.
George told me that he doesn’t do anything exotic on special holidays, because most people enjoy the comfort foods. They know what they are getting, and want the familiar items. They usually plan to order dessert with their entrees—red velvet cupcakes are a wonderful end to the perfect evening.
It takes an army to service people on Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day and Mother’s Day—the three biggest days in the restaurant—nine people on the chef line, one or two prep cooks, 13 servers and three bartenders.
George Mancy began his career washing dishes. He is a self-taught chef, taking classes at some culinary schools and working at restaurants to refine his skills. He takes pride that most patrons at Mancy’s Italian come from the neighborhood close to the restaurant. His patrons are neighbors and friends that come often for dinner; they feel confident in the reliability of great cuisine, the ambiance and friendliness of the staff.
George shared two of his recipes, one from the restaurant as well as his personal tiramisu recipe.
Mancy’s Italian Grill Linguine Gamberi (Shrimp)
12 oz. linguine pasta
4 TBSP butter,
8 cloves roasted garlic, rough chopped
1 c. low-sodium chicken stock
½ tsp ground white pepper
10 hot cherry peppers, sliced
¼ c. grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 TBSP fresh basil, sliced
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
-Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
-Melt 1 TBSP butter in a large skillet. Saute shrimp, garlic, and peppers for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.
-Add chicken stock and simmer, finish with remaining butter.
-Add in tomatoes, season with a pinch white pepper.
-In a large bowl, toss pasta, shrimp, fresh basil and serve.
Serves 8 Source: Mancy’s Italian Grill
3.75 lb. marscapone
½ lb. powdered sugar
12 egg yolks
1 qt. heavy whipping cream
½ TBSP vanilla extract
1 qt. espresso (cool to room temperature)
2 oz. rum
2-3 boxes ladyfingers
– Add egg yolks and powdered sugar to mixing bowl (mix well)
-Add mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated
-In separate bowl, mix heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract until cream is fluffy
-Fold whipping cream into large mixing bowl with cheese mixture
– Take espresso (or dark coffee) and mix with rum
-Dip ladyfingers in espresso and begin layering pan. There should be three layers of each—ladyfingers and cheese mixture
-Let sit covered overnight in refrigerator
– Cut tiramisu and garnish with cocoa or chocolate sauce and fresh fruit
Source: George Mancy, Mancy’s Italian Grill