Cultural revolution in flavor town
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 19:09
International cuisine has become a staple in most cities. It introduces us to a new kind of flavor and food experience without having to spend a lot of money. While trying a multitude of different cuisines, I found myself scouting the greater Omaha area for affordable, but also flavorful international cuisine. My first stop landed me in the quaint little Italian restaurant Mangia Italiana located at 6516 Irvington Road. This true taste of Sicily imbues the palate with great flavors and even more fantastic ambiance.
For my appetizer I decided on the meatball chunks; you get four of them for $6.49, which for the size is not a bad price. The meat trio (veal, beef and pork) mixed with a great array of spices, come together to offer a succulent and juicy meatball. The Sugo All Amatricana sauce was delicious. The sauce is a typical Italian sauce with tomatoes and guanciale (cheek of the pig). It was super succulent and flavorful and really brightened the dish, adding notes of a wonderful rich opulence.
For my entree I kept it simple, Mangia Italiana has the best homemade pizzas you will find short of going to Sicily. The handcrafted dough is nice and crispy with a plethora of toppings to choose from such as anchovies, peppers, sausage, or just plain cheese. You can build your own, and at only $5.99 for a small pizza, the price doesn't break the bank. For a total of less than $15 you can have an appetizer and a pizza entree. For more information about the restuarant and to look at the menu, vist mangiaitaliana.com.
From Sicily to the Mediterranean, my next stop landed me at El Basha Mediterranean Grill located at 7503 Pacific Ave., a quaint and authentic Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant. I have not sampled much in the way of Mediterranean cuisine, so I was pleasantly surprised at the immense flavor profiles juxtaposed with an intense spice contrast that emanates from the dishes. Sitting down in the dining room, your senses are flooded with spice, both heat and smokey from the chilis and native spices. The smokiness from the turmeric and cumin most commonly identified in Mediterranean cuisine awakens the palate.
The food explodes with flavor, and you can tell a lot of care and finesse went into the food. I ordered the Gyro - beautifully thin sliced lamb marinated in spices from turmeric and cumin to cayenne and garam marsala, a traditional Indian spice mix. Each family has their own version and it is kept a secret. The tzatziki sauce, which has cucumber, yogurt, and spices on the light and fluffy pita bread it was served on cost only $5.75. Most, especially students, can afford this classic. In total, I paid less than $10, which is affordable. If you are ever out and about, stop and sample your own taste of what your city has to offer. For more information about El Basha and a menu list, visit elbashagrill.com.