(Warning- This is a very long review.) Manoli Canoli is a delightful Greek Italian restaurant. Six of us went for lunch for my birthday. We arrived at 1:30pm on a Monday. I had read the reviews on various sites including this one and they were very positive. The location is easily accessible as it is directly on Connecticut Ave. There is parking in the rear of the building. You can enter the restaurant from that parking lot but we walked around the front. As we entered we were slightly taken aback by the size of the place. It was quaint. We thought it would be larger. (Pictures of the interior are on their website under the contact us link- http://manolicanoli.com/contactus.aspx . I had not looked at that section of the site before we went.) With the way the tables were arranged it did not feel crowded. The front is all glass so the interior was flooded with light.
A large party was leaving so we only had to wait a few minutes to get a table. Once seated the gentleman (who I swear seemed like the co-owner) came over quickly and took our drink order. The menu has something for everyone. Not only do they have Greek and Italian favorites such as Mousaka, Pastitsio, Lasagna, and Ravioli; there were pizza, subs, salads, burgers, chicken, fish, lamb etc. We ordered the following entrees:
2 orders Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Hand Cut French Fries and Green Beans that were simmered in a tomato sauce that contained onions and bay leaves. $19.95 each
2 orders Mousaka with Green Beans $13.75 each
1 small Horiatiki Salada (Greek Salad) $5.50
1 small 10” Pepperoni Pizza $10.75
1 order Cheese Ravioli in Alfredo Sauce $11.00
Five to ten minutes after placing our orders. A basket of bread and my husband's and my salad were brought to the table. Appetizers were not ordered by the other four in my party. The salad contained chunks of cucumbers and tomatoes, slices of green pepper and red onion (we had it on the side), flat cubes of feta, kalamata olives (unpitted, which was fine for me but not my husband) and capers. The salad was drizzled with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), vinegar and I believe oregano. It was served with lightly toasted pita bread. The salad was flavorful and not overly salty (capers, olives, and feta can make a salad salty). My only complaint was there was not enough feta. A few more cubes would have been perfect. The bread in the bread basket was nothing special. It was a loaf of homemade white bread that was mild in flavor. It was served with butter. If this bread was served with a dish of flavored EVOO and a few olives it would have enhanced the flavor.
Our entrees came out less than 10 minutes later. Everyone enjoyed their food but since I only tried a few things I will comment on those. I had Mousaka. The portion was very generous. It had a thick layer of potatoes on the bottom, eggplant and meat mixture next, and topped with a very thick béchamel sauce. Many of the Mousaka I previously have eaten contained more moisture/sauce. The thick layer of potatoes made this dish drier than which I am accustomed. However, this did not stop me from eating. The béchamel was creamy, smooth, and flavored nicely with nutmeg. The eggplant was chopped very fine and mixed well the ground meat. The slight juices from the mixture was absorbed by the tender chunks of potatoes. The green beans as described above were a nice contrast and helped with the dryness of the Mousaka.
Mother had the Grilled Baby Lamb Chops that she initially wanted to eat with rice but found out the fries were hand cut so she changed her mind. Yes the fries were hand cut. They had a slightly sweet taste which I found pleasant. This could have been due to not soaking the cut fries in cold water for a long time before frying. They were limp but again this did not bother me. (Usually I like my fries crispy but since the flavor was good I could overlook this.) The interesting thing is although they were limp they did not taste greasy.
My Brother-in-law had pepperoni pizza. He let me have a slice. Let me tell you, I am not a fan of pepperoni pizza but I really enjoyed this one. It had a thin and chewy crust that tasted very fresh. It was kissed with tomato sauce (very thin layer), covered with creamy shredded mozzarella cheese (most likely whole milk), and almost paper thin slices of pepperoni (slightly salty, peppery). I live in NJ where there are pizza places on almost every other corner but I would definitely come back to Manoli Canoli to have their pizza.
We finished eating in under an hour and were pondering dessert. Everyone was too full to think about eating dessert but I, of course, couldn’t resist. Who said I had to eat it there? I saw in the refrigerated wine/ dessert display case they had my weakness- Key Lime Pie. So I asked the gentleman who was our server if it was very tart (my test for a true Key Lime Pie) and he answered yes. That sold me. He came over and to our table to make sure no one else wanted anything and that was when Mother informed him it was my Birthday. He gave me the dessert on the house. That was very nice. I got home and opened the box. The piece looked smaller than what I usually have seen (I really should have measured so you would know). I thought to myself it must be bursting with flavor. Boy was I right! It was very tart, very smooth and creamy, with slight bits of lime zest. The crust, which consisted of coarse crumbles of graham crackers (?), was sweet which did impact the flavor of the filling towards the end. To explain, the bottom crust was thinner than the filling so you tasted the tartness perfectly. The edge of the slice contained a much thicker crust and the filling was less so the tartness was impacted.
When we left the gentleman thanked us for coming and wished me Happy Birthday. In conclusion, my family and I would definitely return to Manoli Canoli. The food was very well prepared. The people were friendly and service was prompt. I also felt the prices were reasonable.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.