A blog about food
They Had Me At Handmade
This is not your canned Prego and boxed Bertolli noodles – this is della MANO. In Italian this literally means made “by hand.” Tucked right in between the Casino and the Roosevelt, della MANO is fast becoming one of downtown Ketchum’s newest Main Street staples. And true to its name, everything in this place is handmade. From the fresh baked bread and noodles, to the glasses made from the bottoms of re-used wine bottles, this is a restaurant made entirely from scratch (which, as we all know, is the best kind of recipe).
Unlike the Olive Gardens of America that many are accustomed to associating with “Italian food," this is Italian cooking the way it should be – traditional, comfortable, rustic, and delicious.
Left: White bean and artichoke bruschetta. Right: Elk osso bucco with sweet potato gnocchi. Did we mention that it is all hand-made?
Chef Taite Pearson’s culinary roots go back to Italy’s sunny countryside, where he learned from little grandmothers in small brick-oven kitchens how to make meatballs and pasta perrrfetto. Together with chef and co-owner Sarah Lipton, who also has extensive experience in Italian fine-dining, they have created a modest menu of dishes like Garganelli Pasta (brussel leaves, cipollinis, boar bacon, and thyme, $15), Puntarelle and Treviso Salad (soft egg and garlic crumbs, $8), and Elk Osso Bucco (sweet potato gnocchi and huckleberry, $22), all made with fresh locally-grown ingredients. With appropriate portion sizes that won’t leave your buttons popping off your pants (but flavors that will leave your tongue begging for more), you’ll be kissing the tips of your fingers in salutation by the end.
And don’t forget the wine… With glass prices ranging from $7-$14 (multiply that by four if you want the whole bottle), they have a simple set of choices that – get this – is not at the top of Wine Spectator’s list. Rather, they picked good affordable wine that complements their menu. Novel idea, no?
With reasonable price points and a laid-back atmosphere, this restaurant was designed to be inviting to literally everyone. The community tables and bench seating bring the feel of an authentic Italian osteria. A place where customers walk through the door, make their way around the room hugging friends and kissing familiar cheeks before sitting at their table to begin chatting and cheersing with their neighbors. “This is dining in an open format,” says Chef Pearson. A type of dining that takes away the privatized “mine” of a typical experience. You are sharing your silverware, the table, and possibly a bench with other diners, fostering exactly the friendly “family style” feel and the true spirit of Italy, which the owners worked to create.
The dining room at della MANO is rustic, modern and truly unique.
della MANO's kitchen is eco-friendly and sleek.
Although the food is a real slice of Italian cuisine, the building brings the experience into a modernized context. The space itself is none too big, and the red chairs, lime green paintings (arranged into a secret Morse code message), and the mustache wallpaper in the bathroom (awesome…) give this little osteria an edge. They also have the “green” appeal, with their environmentally-friendly electric-heated kitchen and sustainable marmoleum flooring.
Another thing that makes della MANO great is that there is no unnecessary fuss – no suit-and-tied waiters, pressed white-linen tablecloths or crystal stemware. It is only “fine-dining” if you’re talking about the food. Everything else is simple and to the point – knife, fork, fun. Period. They have, need and want only the basics to make a great restaurant, and using just these fundamental elements, they have established a truly unique and engaging niche – one that is quickly winning over the hearts (and bellies) of locals up and down the Valley.
I know they had me at “handmade.”
Handmade noodles, della MANO-style.