Whenever dinner hit the table, it was always, ‘Mangia mangia, let’s eat guys,’” says Jeremiah Harvey, owner of the recently debuted Mangia Panino.
Harvey grew up hearing the phrase, which is Italian for “eat up!”, with nearly every meal. So when he began planning his first foray into restaurant ownership, the name came naturally. Last week, he and partner Trevor Schulze debuted Mangia in the stall that formerly held Rye Society in Avanti Food and Beverage. The concept offers a range of classic sandwiches including a caprese and a roast turkey, plates like the chicken parmesan, along with a few great pastas and sides.
Harvey was born in New Hampshire and began cooking with his dad when he was still a kid. When he was old enough, he sought out the “best Italian restaurant in town.” In Keene, where he spent his formative years, the spot was Nicola’s Trattoria. “I owe everything to that man,” says Harvey of Nicola Bencinvega, a true boots-on-the-ground chef-owner who inspired Harvey to continue what has become a life-long culinary career.
After graduating from high school, Harvey attended The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). His externship brought him to Colorado Springs, where he and his now-wife worked together at the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club, a private community eatery where guests and residents could enjoy fine-dining American cuisine. He’s since worked across the Roaring Fork Valley, where he spent over four years working with the CP Restaurant Group, the folks behind The Monarch, The Wild Fig and Steakhouse No. 316 in Aspen.
When Steakhouse No. 316 introduced its Boulder location in late 2018, Harvey opened the spot as executive chef, where he remained until June 2021. “I wanted to get back to what I like doing, and that’s making bread,” he says.
Like many enthusiasts, Harvey had developed a love for bread during quarantine. “At one point our entire freezer was bread,” he says with a laugh. “I think my wife hated me for that.”
Knowing that he could further his education, he reached out to OAK’s Steve Redzikowski, who hired him on as the opening manager for New Yorkese, the upstairs pizza parlor that still operates at Avanti.
Harvey says he’s wanted to own and operate his own concept since his days at Nicola’s. “I first envisioned the Anthony Bourdain, hot head, open-kitchen kind of spot.” With Mangia, he’s instead opted to pay homage to one of his favorite New York sandwich spots, Rossi’s Deli, where he often used to dine while still a student at The CIA.
Each morning, the team prepares a fresh batch of focaccia. The thick, elegantly leavened bread provides a firm foundation for three of the five house sandwiches, along with a truly essential side of garlic bread. No sandwich has more than six ingredients, with each one favoring the fundamentals.
“Steve [Redzikowski] always says what makes a good sandwich is good provisions,” says Harvey. “What I’ve learned from fine dining is you’re at the market at 4 a.m. getting the best stuff.”
Harvey was meticulous when designing the menu at Mangia. Pasta comes from Sfoglina, the Denver-based brainchild of Jesse Albertini that has been gaining a reputation for its exceptional hand-milled noodles. Tonali’s Meats in Denver provides a special blend for the meatballs, as Harvey has worked with the old-school family grocer since his time at Steakhouse No. 316. And since focaccia production is already bursting at the seems, City Bakery delivers fresh baguettes for the fried eggplant and Italian pork hoagies. And while the sandwiches sit center-stage, don’t miss the beef rigatoni that comes bathed in what has to be one of the city’s most heartwarming, nonna-approved ragus.
While the menu is currently set, Harvey says he’s got fun plans for the future. “The menu is printed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a reprint,” he says. Talks of a patty melt on house-made Texas toast will hopefully come to fruition sooner rather than later.
Harvey says he’s been extremely excited with the initial reception. “It’s fun to see all that decision-making turn into something tangible you can see. It’s a fun science experiment. Kind of like making bread.”
He also says his vision extends well past the stall. “The idea with Mangia is to take the name and do something else.” Plans to eventually open a Mangia Pasta and a Mangia Market, complete with pan pizzas and artisan goods, have already been floated. “We have to expand this. We can’t just do this and be done.”