On a recent trip to Virginia Beach I happened into Mannino’s Italian Bistro off Atlantic Avenue for an after dinner drink and found myself participating in a full blown social happening.
The bar located directly to the left of the entrance is a horseshoe shaped arena where locals seem to converge. Nothing upscale, just casual enjoyment, and I met some really great people there (you know who you are, wink, wink!)
John the owner, sits incognito at the bar sharing salutations with a flow of resident patrons. Dave the barman is a welcoming soul and game for inclusion in across-the-bar bantering. Mannino’s is a tourist hot spot, but it’s also a local favorite.
The bar crowd is friendly and engaging and I had a wonderful time on each of the two consecutive nights I visited. I sampled a few drinks from the bar menu including The Remedy, an aromatic blossom of Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, a bit of zested lime and a drizzle of Aperol. This was a refreshingly floral cocktail with a slight bite of citrus. I also decided to try their Count Negroni, a mixture of the Campari, Gin and Sweet Vermouth shaken together with a twist of orange. The unmistakable flavor of Campari was pronounced, but made a bit more subtle with the sweet vermouth and the hint of orange.
The after dinner scene was my experience at Mannino’s, so I never got to have a full meal there, however I couldn’t resist a tempting cup of She-Crab Soup. I found it to be a flavorful emulsion with chucks of sweet lump crabmeat and a good smattering of sherry, making it a rich, hearty blend.
Additionally, I did indulge in the Tiramisu. It was probably the best tiramisu that I’ve ever eaten, by far, better than anything I’ve sampled at some of the best, including New York’s Ferrara’s Bakery. It was creamy deliciousness, frothed with flavors of espresso and mascarpone atop a spongy cake bottom, nothing like the typical drenched ladyfingers that so many restaurants peddle.
When I visit again, I intend to have dinner there, but I know for sure that at some point in the evening, I’ll find myself compelled to join my comrades at the bar for some laughs, good cheer and friendly frolicking.
Maybe I’ll see you there! Visit their Oceanfront location at 3420 Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach and check out their website at www.manninositalianbistro.com