Having recently noticed a little slippage in our favorite Norfolk italian restaurant, we stopped in again for dinner at Mannino's Robbins Corner, after an absence of probably over a year. Not too much had changed; the restaurant's interior is still nicely decorated but a bit sterile (only so much you can do with a +/- 1,000 square foot rectangle), servers are still very warm and attentive (but a little weak on the contents of their wine cellar), and, as always, the place was very busy. Our server Mirren was very helpful and attentive throughout, and first allowed us to sample a few of their wine offerings before we settled in to our choices for the evening. Then, after hearing about the evening specials, we were on to our food choices; first their fried oysters, prepared with dried tomatoes, a parmesan cream and bacon - very different, not too creamy/cheesy, and delicious. My wife opted for their cheese ravioli as her entree, which was served with a very fresh and lightly seasoned marinara - also delicious. I had the Saltimbocca; the veal was nicely cooked and thinly sliced, and the sherry sage wine sauce was excellent, but the dish was served with too much (fresh) spinach, and way too much (fresh) mozzarella cheese. We also had to try the Gnocchi, and found the pasta itself, and the plum tomato sauce served with it, to be really excellent - but, again, the dish was served with too much cubed (fresh) mozzarella. Finally we finished with a piece of the tiramisu, which we found flavorful but a little dry, probably because chef doesn't layer the mascarpone into the dish, but only places a dab of the cheese under the cake when plating it for serving.
So Mannino's continues as a really good restaurant for fresh and lightly seasoned sauces, well prepared pasta, great bread, and, sadly, too much cheese in their dishes for my tastes. And the people here have always been great, and certainly continue to be so. Still a nice spot for well prepared, basic italian.
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