Story & photos by Gretchen Ammerman

For the TODAY

Opening a restaurant is notoriously risky, so it’s a pretty big deal that Mangia Italian Deli, in the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort just south of Lincoln City, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Owner Steve Lockwood, though, said he wasn’t surprised to have reached the milestone.

“I always knew we would make it because I was always ready to listen to my customers and execute their suggestions.,” he said. “Over the last year, our menu has evolved into something much different, and much, much better, in my opinion, and that is almost all due to customer feedback.”

Take for example, the toppings on one of the restaurant’s signature flatbreads.

“A customer ordered it and was told we were out of the main ingredient, so she asked what else we had available. We had just gotten in a bunch of Brussels sprouts, so she said to go ahead and use that. The gorgonzola Brussels sprout pesto flatbread is now one of our most popular items.”

The flatbreads, which run from $9 to $11, also include the BBQ turkey with red onions and mozzarella, and the spinach mushroom with goat cheese and garlic.

Lockwood describes the overarching theme of his menu items, all from his own recipes, as comfort Italian food for an American palate.

“I’m not trying to be authentic, just trying to make good-tasting food that is Italian in style,” he said. “I do get compliments from people that understand what I am trying to do. I’ve even had Italians stop in that said that though it was not authentic they were very impressed with the quality and flavor, which was all I needed to hear.”

One dish that is proving to be a customer favorite is the pasta carbonara, made with European bacon, white wine, garlic, and spices, tossed with parmesan cheese and egg.

“I got a great compliment from a customer that had ordered the carbonara and who had just returned from Italy,” Lockwood said. “He said he tried it all over the country during his trip, and ours was as good as almost any of the ones he tried there.”

And though Lockwood wants people to have a good time in his establishment, he is also ready to send them on their way, with a special “Dinner for 2 on the go,” which includes two entrees chosen from a list of pasta choices, enough Caesar salad and garlic bread for two people, and a bottle of house red or white wine, all for only $39. And coming soon, a picnic to-go option:

“It will come with either a meat and cheese platter with fruit or sandwiches and salad, which will have vegetarian options, both will include a bottle of wine,” he said “It will be the perfect thing to bring on an outing.”

The Mangia menu offers vegetarian selections as well as gluten-free, and Lockwood is working on including more low carb items in the future.

And the wine list, which Lockwood says is “limited but broad, and reasonably priced,” has matured with customer feedback:

“Our wine list evolved the same way our menu did,” he said. “We really are focused on serving what the customer wants, not just what we think they should want.”

If you aren’t sure what to select from the list of wines, which features labels from Oregon and Italy, ask for a sample.

“If people want to try wines before they buy a bottle or glass,” Lockwood said, “We’re happy to give tastes.”

Though samples aren’t usually offered for the desserts, that doesn’t seem to deter people, from regulars who know what to expect to first time visitors drawn in by what they see behind the glass.

“The desserts fly out the door,” Lockwood said. “All of them, except for the chocolate cake, are made in house.”

The restaurant has a number of specials that change daily, but Lockwood makes sure that popular items, like one of their best sellers, the Chicken Parmesan Sub, stay on the menu.

I’m a foodie,” he said. “I enjoy the flavor of food and have learned over time what works and what doesn’t, so because of that I can usually tell what will work and what won’t. And in the restaurant, if it works, it stays; if it doesn’t, it goes.”

Mangia Italian Deli is located in the mall at Salishan Spa and Golf Resort, 7755 N. Hwy. 101, and is open for lunch and dinner from 11 am to 8 pm Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday and 11 am to 9 pm on Friday and Saturday. Call them at 541-764-2501.

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