Each month, in our Restaurants Revisited conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers return to an “old favorite” restaurant and assess how it’s faring.
Joy: I married into a family with deep St. Paul roots, and when it’s time to celebrate with a steak, there is only one restaurant to visit. I fell hard for Mancini’s the first time I slid into one of those iconic red booths. The room feels like a ’70s-era Vegas lounge fit for the King.
Jason: I experienced some of the worst karaoke of my life on a recent Tuesday night in that lounge, and still, I absolutely loved it.
Joy: This place is steeped in history, but remains a vital dining destination. They were doing pickle trays long before it was cool.
Jason: Just after you’re seated, you get a silver plate with sliced tomatoes and pickled cucumbers and peppers, as well as a giant basket of grilled garlic toast—
it’s impossible to eat just one piece.
Joy: And impossible not to cram the leftovers into a take-home box.
Jason: At Mancini’s, you’re going to get the steak. We had a filet mignon and a strip, both of which were cooked exactly to the temperature we ordered. And they arrived almost too quickly—the kitchen’s efficiency is impressive.
At Mancini’s, you’re ordering steak
photo by tj turner
Joy: I love the warm service: Our waitress called me “hon” and meant it.
Jason: The wine list is also nice, with so many options under $40—certainly not what you’d expect at a steakhouse. We enjoyed our $21 bottle of Lambrusco and
a surprisingly good Robert Mondavi red blend offered by the glass for $7.
Joy: Their Old Fashioned isn’t one of those new fashioned artisan versions, crafted by a so-called mixologist: This is a standard-order glass of whiskey with a packet of sugar and a dousing of bitters, garnished with Maraschino cherries. And it’s divine
Jason: Whenever you dine at Mancini’s, one of the family members is in the building. These days, either John or Pat Mancini will welcome you with a firm handshake and an entire cake on your birthday, just like their dad, Nick, used to do.
Joy: I only hope this icon remains a part of our community for generations to come. Those still bemoaning the loss of Nye’s need to spend a night in the Mancini’s lounge with a gang of friends and a mountain of steak toast.
Mancini’s Quick Tips:
Lounge Music: Karaoke Tuesdays; live music Thursday-Sunday
Mancini’s Hall of Fame: Honors St. Paul athletes
At the State Fair: Mancini’s launched a stand in 2013 serving breakfast lunch, and dinner. And yes, they have the garlic toast
531 W. Seventh St. St. Paul., 651-224-7345, mancinis.com