Mangia to serve array of Mediterranean cuisine in Dinkytown

Michael Krieger

Reflecting the diversity found along the coasts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, a new Dinkytown restaurant will offer a variety of foods from the Mediterranean region.

Mangia – which opens this week – will fill a four-year vacancy in the Dinkydome’s lower level on University Avenue Southeast.

“It’s not like your standard Italian menu; it’s not like your standard Greek menu,” said co-owner Julie Hasan, a 1993 University graduate.

“We mix and match parts of the Mediterranean,” she said.

Mangia is jointly owned by Julie Hasan, her husband Sam Hasan and brothers Bill and Tony Nicklow.

Born in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria, Sam Hasan is the restaurant’s principal chef and serves Mediterranean history along with the food he prepares.

Exemplifying the convergence of Mediterranean cuisine, Sam Hasan explained that Turli – which is similar to vegetable casserole – was originally a Turkish dish that diffused throughout the region during the Ottoman Empire.

“If you order something like Turli, you can find it almost anywhere in the Mediterranean,” he said.

Since the Mediterranean region has long been influenced by empires, Hasan said, many countries along the coast share similar cuisine.

“It’s the same reason you have great Mexican food in California. People bring food with them as they travel,” he said.

Sam Hasan said contention still exists over the origin of babaganoush, a type of roasted eggplant.

“You can find it in Turkey, but some people say it’s Lebanese, and others say it’s Greek,” he said.

So instead of focusing on one particular region, he said, “We are trying to bring everybody together.”

Julie Hasan said the restaurant’s diversity allows them to be creative with their decor as well as their menu.

European and Middle Eastern accents decorate the restaurant, and Mangia’s tabletops were handmade and imported from the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

“They are typical of what you would find on the coast,” said Julie Hasan, adding that she wanted the restaurant’s environment to represent an eclectic blend of Mediterranean countries.

After establishing the Taste of Manhattan restaurant in Stadium Village in 1997, the Hasans recently opened Mangia Express with the Nicklows on the second floor of the Dinkydome.

The Hasans said they wanted to offer a more traditional dining
experience and hope the new restaurant will compliment the fast-food style of Mangia Express.

“If people want to be a little more adventurous, we bridge that gap,” Julie Hasan said. “We wanted people to be comfortable in both places.”

Mangia – which is Italian for “eat” – opens Friday and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We hope that students find this to be a nice place on campus,” she said.

Michael Krieger welcomes comments at [email protected]