1800 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95811.  (916) 448-3898

We all want to eat healthier but at some point you get sick and tired of making kale salads and farro casseroles in your kitchen. Or maybe you're getting carpal tunnel syndrome from all that online holiday shopping and need some respite and a bite to eat? Then head over to Mangia!. I recently visited this cute little eatery with my friend Gretchen and I was pleasantly surprised by the tasty sandwiches and salads they're churning out. They recently opened shop next to Paesano's on Capitol Avenue, where a Java City used to occupy. They're right on the corner, you can't miss it- just look for the outdoor seating and the big windows.

Mangia! is open from 7am M-F and 8am on Saturdays, perfect for grabbing a breakfast panini on your way to work or popping over to nosh on one of their delicious sandwiches during your lunch break. They have about 15 specialty sandwiches on their menu, ranging from $7 to $9. The breakfast items (loaded bagels and fresh paninis) run from $4 to $6. They also offer soups, salads and fancy coffee drinks. On my visit there, I ordered their Atomic Meatloaf sandwich. Not exactly a calorie conscious choice, but how could I not? It was described as, "Bacon wrapped meatloaf served warm with jack cheese, red onion jam, housemade pickles and hot Mangia! fire sauce on an Acme roll." I bet your mouth's watering now, eh? Well, let me tell you- it lived up to my expectations. Total foodgasm. The hearty slice of meatloaf tasted just like Mom's (well, maybe not my Mom's but someone's mom) and the fire sauce/onion jam combo was quite simply- kickass. My only complaint? It would have been nice to have some chips come with it but I would definitely go back and order this again. My lunch date, Gretchen, who's a complete sweetie, offered me a nibble of her Bombay Chicken Salad sandwich, which I enjoyed as well. There was a spicy undertone (a mixture of jalapenos and red onion) which offset the sweetness of the curried mango mayo and plump golden raisins. It was no slouch in the yummy sandwich department. Mangia! smartly offers the option of ordering all their sandwiches sans bread. Instead you can have the fixin's over a bowl of crisp lettuce. I could see doing that with the Bombay Chicken Salad- it'd make a wonderful salad. Gretchen also ordered a side dish called, "Super Foods," which she excitedly told me I had to try. I'm glad she talked me into taking a taste- it was terrific. The Super Foods was a medley of quinoa, butternut squash, beets, blueberries, almonds and kale tossed with a light acai vinaigrette. I detected that there was a touch of cinnamon mixed in there as well. Now, now...don't turn up your nose. The Super Foods salad had a clean, invigorating taste that was delightful. I think I might try making this one at home. I really liked it and could see myself eating this healthy side a few times a week without tiring of it.

Since my visit, I've talked to a few friends about Mangia! to see their take on this joint. They all raved about the Hail Mary (house cured hot pastrami and melted gooey Swiss topped with Russian dressing and chipotle slaw on an Acme roll). I'm pretty sure a few of them were salivating while they were describing it. Also, one of my buddies who is gluten-free informed me that Mangia! offers gluten-free bread if you ask for it. (Nice! I like it when businesses try to be sensitive to their customer's dietary needs or preferences.) I think I might need to scoot over there soon and test out this Hail Mary. I'll let you know if it's a touchdown or not. In the meantime, the prices at Mangia! are on par with other casual eateries in the Grid, the sandwiches are bueno and the service staff is really friendly (they had an employee circulating through the tables checking in on patrons to make sure everything was to their liking). If you're in the area- pop over there and give them a try yourself, I would love to hear about your experience there.


Went back recently for lunch- it appears that Mangia! has changed their Super Foods salad. The old version was much better. The new version is complete rubbish, skip it!

Did you know there are only 120 or so authentic Jewish delis left in the country, while at one time there were 2,000 in New York alone? Sad isn't it? It's getting harder and harder to find a good, solid deli sandwich in the US. And if you think Subway makes a good deli sandwich- fuggedaboutit!

I think one of life's great pleasures is to bite into a warm, salty pastrami sandwich slathered with spicy brown mustard or piled high with tangy sauerkraut. It doesn't get any better than that! If you're curious what's going on with all the Jewish delis disappearing, check out this great documentary , "Deli Man," by Erik Greenberg Anjou.
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Hope you all had a great weekend and were able to stay dry. Something about dreary weather just makes me want to sloth out on the couch in comfy pajamas, with a big ol' mug of hot bourbon cider and a good book (I'm currently making my way through Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened, which is seriously pee-your-pants funny).

It was raining cats and dogs Friday, so I brought Pepper pup over to my cottage for some cuddling. He sure hates riding in the car to get here but loves napping on the couch! We had a lazy afternoon listening to the rain pelt against the roof until it was time to go meet up with Mr.S.

This weekend I also saw Ovation Stage's production of Kitchen Witches with my friend Michelle. Have you seen it? It was pretty good. The acting was smooth and they had quite the funny script. I absolutely loved Deborah Shalhoub's character, Dolly Biddle.
Photo Source: Ovation Stage

I also found a little time to dabble in the kitchen. I've recently turned Mr.S. onto squash so we've been taste testing several varieties to see which ones we like the best. So far we've made our way through delicata, sweet dumpling, kabocha and acorn. The last one I prepared was the acorn squash. It had a mild, sweet, nutty flavor that both of us liked. To fancy up the squash a bit, I made a batch of my winter quinoa which we stuffed the squash with and then topped with a sprinkling of goat cheese. Fantastic! It was so good that Mr.S. asked me to make more squash the next night. Isn't it awesome when you find something that tastes great and is nutritious? Can't go wrong there!

Super Stuffed Acorn Squash


2 medium sized acorn squash, each cut in half

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup quinoa ( I used Trader Joe's Organic Tri-Color Quinoa)

2 cups vegetable broth

8 oz. of your favorite breakfast sausage, chopped/crumbled  (I used Farmer John's Old-Fashioned Maple Sausage Links)

3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1/2 a small yellow onion, chopped

1 small Fuji apple, cored and chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 bunch of chard, ribs removed and torn into bite sized pieces

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

3 tablespoons of crumbled goat cheese (or 3-4 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan)

salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut each squash in half crosswise; scoop out and discard seeds. Coat squash with olive oil.

3. Place squash cut-side down on a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet.

4. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes.

5. While that's cooking, rinse your quinoa. Place the rinsed quinoa in a pot with the broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for however long the product's instructions say, usually 15-30 minutes.

6. In a large skillet, cook your sausage. Drain and set aside on a paper-towel covered plate.

7. In the now empty skillet, heat up some olive oil over med-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add your chopped onions. Cook until semi-translucent.

8. Add garlic, apple and chard. Cook until the chard becomes wilted.

9. Check your quinoa. If it's done (you can tell when it's done cooking because there be a little white ring that curls around it, this is called the germ), add it to your skillet.

10. Toss in your teaspoon of thyme, cooked sausage and dried cranberries. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook the whole shebang for about 3 minutes and then set aside.

11. Now take your roasted acorn squash and flip them over. The flesh should be tender and the exposed side should be a bit caramelized. Fill the holes with several scoops of your quinoa mixture and sprinkle some lovely goat cheese (or Parmesan) on it.

12. Pop the stuffed squash back in the oven (same temp) for another 5-6 minutes.

13. Remove from oven and serve immediately with a spoon.

(Note: The flesh of the acorn squash will be nice and soft and quite yummy- almost like a warm veggie ice cream. The skin on this particular squash is edible too but a bit tougher than say the skin on a delicata. I'm not a big fan of it but if you like it, knock yourself out.)


Looking for a fun weekend event that offers some tasty eats, benefits two great charities AND pits talented area chefs against each other in a friendly competition? Sounds like the Truck and Mortar Throwdown would be right up your alley! Sponsored by SactoMoFo, The SacTown Dining Collective and Whole Foods Markets this culinary showdown is happening on December 1st, so don't wait to purchase your ticket. The teams for the TMT consist of some of Sactown's finest restaurant and food truck culinary wizards:

  • Oliver Ridgeway (Grange) and Robert Ramos (Coast to Coast Sandwiches)
  • Mike Thiemann (Ella's) and Chando (Chando’s Tacos)
  • Adam Pechal (Tuli Bistro & Restaurant Thir13en) and Donell Hendrix (Simply Southern Foods) 
  • Billy Ngo (Kru Restaurant) and Davin Vculek (Krush Burger)
  • Pedro Depina (Ettore’s) and Andrew "Drewski" (Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen)
The two main ingredients that all the teams have to work with? One gallon of honey and one whole pig, baby! It doesn't get an sweeter (or more savory) than that. So what are you waiting for? Get your ticket now.

A ticket ($45) includes 10 samples of delicious food (2 by each team), one Ruthstaller beer, one Broadacre coffee and assorted holiday appetizers served by Whole Foods. And best of all?  The proceeds go to Toys for Tots and The California Fire Foundation just in time for the holidays.

Which team do you think will win and claim the title of TMT champion along with the bragging rights?

* Tickets can be purchased online at:  Truck and Mortar Throwdown
($45 presale, $60 at the event)

1315 21st Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. (916) 441-7100

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of grabbing dinner and catching up with two girl friends. A bit of thought had to go into choosing where to meet up as it was a holiday (Veteran's Day, so some restaurants were closed) and we had one vegan amongst us. I had heard fairly good things about Bombay Bar and Grill next to Pieces Pizza on 21st Street; so in honor of Diwali, we decided to dine there.

The interior of Bombay Bar and Grill is quite impressive, you almost feel like you're inside a genie's bottle. The walls are done up in warm jewel tones and the windows are adorned with playful swags of fabric and fancy tassels. Upon entering, we were greeted with wafts of exotic spices coming from the kitchen then seated in a gold toned half-booth. I had heard that they had an extended happy hour that went from 2-7 pm, that was supposed to be a big draw; however, we were informed that the happy hour drink and food menu was reserved for the bar area. Really? The bar area looked totally dead, so we opted to retain our seats in the comfy dining room. We started out with a round of cocktails. Since everyone else was ordering specialty cocktails, I thought I'd give it a go and ordered a concoction called The Midtown Shuffle. Based on the description I was picturing a light refreshing drink but what I ended up getting was a glass of something that tasted akin to cherry NyQuil; this didn't turn out to be a big problem though, as after a few sips of the super strong beverage, I couldn't taste the drink anymore and had a nice buzz going.

We began our meal with the Himalayan Appetizer which was basically a pupu platter (a little of everything) of various fried Indian goodies. We received (4 of each) pakoras, naan strips, samosas and vegetable momos along with some chutney. It was one of the better sampler platters that I've had in town, for less than $10 you have enough bite-sized pieces to share for 3-4 people. It's easy to split up, everything is vegetarian and no one ends up feeling gypped. My only gripe was that the naan was a bit bland. For dinner, I decided to check out their chicken mushroom masala. You can either order this a la carte or upgrade to the traditional Indian Thali meal for $4 extra. The Thali meal is kind of their version of an "extra value meal"- it includes basmalti rice, raita, vegetable curry, dal and naan- all on a metal tray. (Raita is a type of mild yogurt dip and dal is similar to a lentil mash.)  My main dish was okay; boneless chicken cubes seasoned with garlic and sliced mushrooms mixed with a spicy, creamy sauce. The sauce had a nice layering of spices but it wasn't overly spicy (they ask you if you like it mild, medium or spicy when you place your order). If I could do my order over, I think I should have ordered my meal a la carte. I found my main course to be decent but the sides were pretty forgettable.

Service was a bit spotty. Our waitresses were polite but I found that every time they brought out drinks or dishes to our table they had to ask, "Whose is this?" I know I sound like I'm nit-picking but as an ex-waitress this drives me a bit batty when it occurs continuously through the meal and the conversation gets interrupted. A good waitress should have some sort of system in place so they (or the expediter) can place the food or drink in front of the correct diner without having to repeatedly interrupt. At one point the table next to us got the wrong check, they passed it over to us thinking it was ours (it wasn't) so we hailed down a nearby waitress and explained to her that the check must be someone else's. She flipped open the billfold and the first words out of her mouth were that the check didn't belong to her tables and then she acted as though she was doing us a favor by finding its rightful owner. I doubt my dining partners took much notice of this small exchange but I was slightly annoyed. Not to sound rude, but take the damn check and go deal with it...find the right table, go find the waitress it belongs to, whatever...I don't care, just don't tell me it's not your problem because it's certainly not mine.

My last impression of Bombay Bar and Grill was a favorable one though. Our waitress didn't seem to mind that we lingered a little longer than most diners post-dinner while we caught up on girltalk and as we exited, both our waitress and the front end hostess paused to call out friendly "thank you's" and "good night's." It was a nice way to close out our dinner. Overall though, I prefer the Indian meals I've had at Kathmandu Kitchen and Mati's (RIP). The meals there tend to be more flavorful, a bit bigger in portion size and less pricey. I did like the location and vibrant decor of Bombay Bar and Grill (love the deep fuchsia colored walls in the ladies room) but I don't think the food impressed me enough to make a return trip.

It's Sunday and Mr.S. is running around frantically trying to complete his weekend To Do list. Every so often he comes into the house to check the scores on the 9 million football games that are on. He winces more then he smiles at the scores and as he heads outside again to mow the lawn and rake leaves, he shoots me a version of the stinkeye that could give an old gypsy woman a run for her money. I love Mr.S. but he's one of those guys who always has to be busy with something- projects, repairs, a new exercise routine; whereas, I'm of the ilk that believes Sundays are for lazing about. Yep, buy me a one way ticket to Lazytown. Nothing makes me happier than what I affectionately call No Bra Sundays. My lady friends know what I'm talking about...those Sundays where you sleep in, drink a cup of coffee (or three) around 10 and then you just lounge on the sofa while sporting comfy yoga pants and no over-the-shoulder boulder holder. Yep, the girls are feelin' free and so am I. After munching on a lunch of a few "fun-size" candy bars and finishing Tina Fey's, "Bossypants," I'm ready for some human interaction, reluctantly...and it's only 3pm.

Anyhow, post No Bra Sunday (aka Monday), you'll need to get back with the Get Sh*t Done regime and to do that you'll need to eat something healthier than a bag of Doritos and leftover Thai takeout. Give this faux pilaf recipe a try. I know it sounds turbo healthy (which it is) but it tastes good as well. If it makes you feel better, you can eat it while wearing your yoga pants and watching an episode of "Revenge."

Mushroom-Asparagus Quinoa "Pilaf"


1 cup quinoa (I used Trader Joe's Organic Tri-Color Quinoa)

2 cups broth (You can pretty much use any kind. Chicken or vegetable work well. I had some leftover shiitake broth from another cooking project so I used that)

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste


1. Rinse your quinoa. (I do this even if the package is marked pre-rinsed.) It removes the quinoa's bitter tasting coating called the saponin.

2. Place rinsed quinoa in a pot with broth.

3. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for however long the product's instructions say, usually 15-30 minutes.

4. In a skillet, heat up olive oil. Once it's hot, add mushrooms, asparagus and garlic. Saute until asparagus is bright green (about 5 minutes).

5. When the quinoa is done (you can tell when it's done cooking because there be a little white ring that curls around it, this is called the germ), add it to your veggies.

6. Season with salt and pepper and you're ready to go!

Delicata's the Ryan Gosling of the winter squash family. It's hip, it's smooth and oh-so-cute! You can bake them, you can steam them, you can even stuff them...or my personal favorite- you can roast them. The best part is there's no peeling necessary, the skin's edible. Just slice the squash up into rounds, pop out the seeds and guts, season and throw the squash into the oven. In just 25 minutes, you'll have a plateful of delicious squash with a buttery texture that tastes just like a mild sweet potato (but much healthier). Packed full of dietary fiber and beta carotene, it's a great addition to your seasonal veggie line-up or as a side dish for Thanksgiving.

Roasted Delicata Squash
(Feeds 2-3 people as a side)


2 delicata squash, washed and scrubbed

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Slice squash. Then pop out the seeds and squash goo in the center. You'll have small rounds of squash.

3. Place squash in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on. Toss with your hands and make sure pieces are evenly coated.

4. Season lightly with salt. Roast until tender (approx. 25 minutes, flipping the squash over halfway through the cooking time).

5. Remove from oven. Season with salt (to taste) and serve while it's still hot.

This past weekend, Mr.S. took me and the kidlets on an impromptu field trip to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery so we could see all the salmon jumping about. It was quite incredible...salmon, salmon everywhere, as far as the eye could see! We were all pretty much in awe. I even took a few photos while we were there:

If you get a chance stop by there. Kidlets will love feeding the fish in the "nursery" tanks and watching the fish jump up the fish ladder.

So to celebrate all the salmon in the American River, Mr. S. and I decided to cook up some salmon for dinner Wednesday night. Can you say yum?! (Salmon is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which is good for your cardiovascular health.)  I stopped by and picked up a nice big piece of fresh salmon at Sunh Fish and cooked it up in a no-frills manner: olive oil, a few pinches of herbes de Provence, lemon slices and a boatload of garlic (we love garlic!). We then tented it up in foil and chucked it in the oven. In less than a half hour, we had some wonderfully moist and flavorful salmon dressing up our plates. Keeping with the healthy theme, we also made some roasted delicata squash and a mushroom and asparagus quinoa pilaf...but more on that later this week. ;)

Oven-Baked Fresh Salmon


1.5 lbs fresh (wild) salmon - you can cut these into smaller individual fillets or roast it as one giant fillet

Extra virgin olive oil

Herbes de Provence

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

4-6 garlic cloves, minced

3 small lemons (2 sliced, 1 in wedges)

Aluminum foil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil on it and spread it out.

3. Place salmon on the middle of the foil sheet, skin side down. Lightly coat the fish with olive oil.  Season with a few pinches of herbes de Provence, several minced cloves of garlic, some Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Squeeze some fresh lemon across the top.

4. Place slices of lemon across the top.

5. Fold the sides of the foil upward and over, creating a small tent-like packet. Make sure everything is covered and all the sides are sealed tightly.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or more if you have really thick fillets), until salmon is fully cooked.
Tip: cook the fish 10 minutes for each inch of thickness.

7. Use a spatula to transfer fillets to plates. Serve with lemon wedges.


This past weekend I was at a party and my buddy Eric and I happened to get in a conversation about food. He mentioned that he had been making curry chicken salad fairly frequently lately. My first thought was, "Curry chicken salad...yum! But ugh, I would have to roast some chicken...what a pain in the butt. Who has time for that?"  That's when he mentioned that he was using cooked rotisserie chicken from the market and my ears perked up. Rotisserie chicken? That sounds quick! Then my second thought was, "Oh, all that mayo! I can't eat that, I'm trying to lose a few pounds!" But where there's a will there's a way and on the drive home later that night, I started thinking about perhaps using yogurt (more specifically Greek yogurt, which has a nice creamy texture) in place of the mayo. I could cut the calories but still get my curry chicken salad fix. I know several friends who love subbing Greek yogurt into their recipes so I figured,"Why the hell not?" I tinkered around with the recipe on Monday and what I ended up with is listed below. I was quite pleased with the result and ate it for dinner last night and lunch today. It was the perfect balance of sweet and savory for me.
* If you like spicy, add a pinch of cayenne, it adds a nice kick to the dish.

PS It's Nov. 6th! If you haven't already--be sure to vote!

Spicy Curry Chicken Salad


3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

1 cup plain Greek yogurt  (I used Fage Total 2%)

1.5 tablespoons curry powder

1 medium Fuji apple, cored and chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red onion

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup almonds, sliced and roasted (optional)

pinch of cayenne (optional)


1. In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, curry powder, lemon juice, pepper, salt and a pinch of cayenne. Stir together.

2. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, chopped apple, dried cranberries and red onion.

3. Combine the ingredients from the two bowls. Mix together well.

4. Serve chilled. Tastes great spread on some soft lavash or place a scoop atop a bed of fresh salad greens.