In 1981, the choices for lunch were severely limited in midtown Manhattan for the thousands of busy working professionals who poured out of the skyscrapers and office buildings at midday during the week. Either you ate at a coffee shop, diner and hot-dog cart, or committed to a more formal (and lengthy) three martini affair at a fine dining restaurant!
Sasha Muniak, Founder of Mangia and an entrepreneur and foodie, recognized this dichotomy and made it his mission to create an appealing niche nestled between New York’s two ”culinary extremes.” His vision: to offer customers uncomplicated, rustic, Italian fare made with the freshest and most wholesome ingredients. Customers could choose between “eating in” in a stylish, yet casual environment or “taking out” to one’s nearby office.
A mouth-watering sandwich made on fresh, rustic bread and featuring the best ingredients available; a delicious array of antipasti and alluring salads displayed, buffet style; a cup of homemade soup; a glass of freshly-squeezed juice; and a bakery producing the most delicious cookies, pastries, breakfast items and cakes, all homemade and baked daily: Mangia epitomized the simple but authentic (and eminently crave-able!) food, offered at a fair price, found across the Mediterranean basin but virtually nonexistent on American shores. Importantly, Sasha envisioned the concept originally as lunch-only so that he could be home at a reasonable hour to spend time with his family.
While the Mangia premise seems so relevant and of-the-moment nowadays, it was a true outlier back in the early 80s. Despite many skeptics who thought it was an idea way ahead of its time, we opened on 56th Street to great acclaim and success. Within a year, we launched our corporate catering operation which has become a backbone of the business — known city-wide as the upscale go-to choice for meetings and corporate and special events. And despite Sasha’s initial wishes, Mangia is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
In 1989, we expanded to 48th Street off 5th Avenue, and the original store on 56th Street moved to larger quarters one block north on 57th Street in 1993, just a few blocks from Central Park. A sprawling Wall Street store followed in 1998, and our Flatiron location on 23rd Street, a stone’s throw from Madison Square Park, debuted in 2003. Today, our Mangia Madison and Mangia 57 locations also offer a full-service restaurant experience as an alternative to our eat in/take out/delivery options.
It is no exaggeration to state that “back when,” Mangia revolutionized the New York lunch scene. And while the food landscape has completely changed over the past 35 years, our rustic, artisanal approach and farm-to-table menus are as relevant and worthy of notice now as the first day we opened. We look forward to serving you for another 35 years — and more.