One of the benefits of taking part of Vancouver Foodster‘s tasting challenges is that you get to visit restaurants in different neighbourhoods, including some great ones that are slightly remote to diners in the city. This time I travelled with Maggi (@magmei) to Mangia E Scappa in Fort Langley for the Best Pizza Challenge. From where I picked her in Burnaby, it took about 30 minutes to drive here. However, the whole experience was totally worth it.
Although it was already dark, we were still able to get a glimpse of the scenery of Fort Langley after getting off the freeway. Known as the home of Fort Langley National Historic Site, Fort Langley is at the northern edge of the Township of Langley, lying on the Fraser River. We were driving down Glover Road through the beautiful countryside, and eventually reaching the centre of the district, with the road turning into the popular shopping street with artisan stores and eateries for the locals and tourists. The area totally reminded me of Stevenston Village in Richmond, and I definitely want to come back here for a visit. When we found the restaurant, it was standing grand like the nearby businesses, with both modern and historic characters.
I really like the interiors with high ceilings and red brick pillars. And we were seated in the semi-secluded area with us facing their collection of old chianti bottles and an Italian classic song caressing our years. And I was suddenly in the mood for a glass of red wine.
We started right the way with their pizza entry for the pizza challenge, the Patate e Pipi($20). It was created by the owner’s 15-year-oldar old son, Luca Carbone. Dedicated to his grandmother’s favourite dish from Calabria in Italy, this pizza features a tomato-infused wheat and tipo zero-zero crust and a creamy sauce, topped with thinly shaved potatoes, roasted peppers, Fontina, garlic confit, Bonetti’s Pancetta and their house made fresh cheese using his family recipe. The crust with evenly spread leopard spots has a great texture for a bit of a chew. The creamy potato slices topped with rosemary reminded me of scallop potatoes, and the touch of pancetta gives a bit more of the rich and savoury quality, bringing the comfort of pizza-eating up a couple levels.
We also tried a few signature dishes, recommended by the owner, Giulia. She told about the story behind the restaurant. Her parents came from a small village in the South of Italy, called Figline in Calabria, where her relatives still supply the bread to the restaurant daily from the family bakery in their hometown. Besides having inherited all the wonderful family recipes, she has also collected a lot of wonderful Italian talents before coming up with the menu. As mentioned earlier that her son Luca works as the pizzaiolo, he has taken apprenticeship from established Italian chefs from Novo Pizzeria and Spacca Pizzeria, which are both in the same pizza challenge as well. And their pasta chef also works at the popular Nightingale in downtown Vancouver.
For appetiser, we tried the Calamari Fritti ($15), served with a zesty mayo. Impressed with the generous size of the cut squid pieces, and the breading was light and crispy. Although the zesty mayo was tasty, the squid itself was very lightly seasoned and would be perfect with a tiny touch of salt.
I had my eyes on the Fettuccine Al Nero Di Seppia ($25), and Giulia spoke my mind as she recommended it. It is filled with everything you expect from a decadent seafood pasta dish. I was swept away by the sweetness and natural umami from the squid ink in the pasta. The flavourful fettuccine was enhanced by a luxurious lobster cream sauce and topped with tiger prawns and baby shrimps. The noodles were perfectly al dente and complemented by swirls of zucchini spaghetti for a nice texture contrast. It is the most refreshing pasta dish with a cream sauce that I have ever had. I savoured every single bite of it.
And last our sweet tooth was spoiled by a trio of desserts. We had the pleasure to taste the Crostata alla Calabrese ($7.95), an entry for the Best Pie Challenge. Inspired by a family recipe from Guilia’s hometown, where figs, fruit and nuts flourish, the pie features pasta frolla, Giulia’s fig preserve, bosc pear and amaretti cookie soaked in espresso & liqueur. I’m a fan of figs and dried figs and often use them in my cooking, so there is a sense of familiarity and comfort from the flavour. The pear gives freshness and the amaretti gives the special almond aroma. Overall it was a light and delectable treat.
The Chef Alessandro’s Tiramisu ($7.95), as one of the most popular Italian desserts at most Italian places. While Maggi had never been a big fan of tiramisu or any desserts with a mushy texture. I, however, found the flavours were spot on. The coffee flavour was pronounced but not overpowering. And it was so soft and fluffy, melting on my tongue rather quickly.
The Cannoli (Traditional Silian Style) ($6.50) was admirable as the shells were made in house. The shells were filled with ricotta and chocolate chips. Maggi loved the crunchiness of the shell and this is definitely her type of dessert. And I enjoyed it very much as well.
We also visited their store right next to the restaurant, open 11-6pm daily. Besides the house-made pasta, piadine (Italian flat bread) and prepared meals, they carry products imported from Italy, such as olive oil, coffee, sweets, canned goods and deli meats.
The dinner was delicious and the whole experience was heart felt as if an Italian family had opened their doors and invited us to their dinner party. And we can also see the amazing passion from the food they prepare because they are so proud of everything they grow, make or cook. If anyone wants to participate the true Italian hospitality, it is worth a drive to visit Mangia E Scappa in Fort Langley.
*All food and beverages in this post were complimentary. Opinions are on the reviewer’s own.
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