Jack Mancini Talks M Bar and New Plans For Mancini's

Categories: Behind the Line
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Restauratuer Jack Mancini will launch two restaurants on Las Olas by August.
Welcome to Las Olas, where things are always shaking up. Moving straight to the front of the conga line this week is M Bar, the upcoming restaurant from Jack Mancini, owned of Mancini's on Las Olas. M Bar, a global tapas restaurant with a focus on small plates and a vibrant bar scene, will open in June in the former Bar Amici space on East Las Olas. For those of you keeping track, that's right next door to Rocco's Tacos -- a combination that sounds primed to create a gravity well of personality in the area.

To go along with M Bar's unveiling, Mancini closed his eponymous Italian restaurant of nearly 10 years. Mancini's is also slated to reopen in August, in a space adjacent to M Bar.

We spoke to Mr. Mancini, who was busy with the launch of M Bar, to get the inside scoop on both concepts.

New Times: First of all, global tapas sounds like a bit of a departure from classic Italian. Why the change?

Jack Mancini: It's not really a departure, it's been my plan for the last three years. With the market the way it was, it's been difficult to fund, but now things are in order. The concept was always designed with this space in mind.

Why close Mancini's while you are in the process of opening M Bar?
I bought the building down the street, and originally, I wanted to do a steakhouse in the space next to M Bar. But my lease was up at Mancini's at the same time. I tried to get some extensions to keep Mancini's open, but the Las Olas Company didn't want to do that.

The east end of Las Olas seems to be getting more and more popular. Was that a factor in you making the move there?

I was looking for Las Olas in general, but about 10 years ago I made an offer on the same building. Actually, it was 13 years ago before I had even opened Mancini's. So I've had this spot in mind for a long time. But really, where Rocco's is, the east side, it used to be the busy side. You could shoot a can off of where YOLO is now. At night, no one was down there. Everyone was at Mark's or Paisano's or Mario's very first opening 20 years ago.

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M Bar's location from the outside.
So maybe this is more of a come back for the east side?
Yes. I'm puling together some marketing and research where I've kind of coined this phrase ELO, short for East Las Olas. We're trying to get the restaurant owners together and start marketing that as a destination, sort of like Wynwood or the Design District is in Miami. 

Has the chef at M Bar been named yet?
Not yet, but I'm pretty close to making a decision.

So I take it the menu is your creation then?
The menu I've been developing for the past few years. We took a look at some places around the country and in Miami that have used this small plates tapas concept. Instead of doing Spanish tapas, we're using the phrase global tapas, and incorporating cuisines from around the world.

Tell me about the farm to table aspect, how did this come about?
We'll be outsourcing with local farmers and cattle companies, using organic raised beef and pork... basically, clean, fresh food that's modern and creative with good presentation. I'm pretty passionate about food of all types. I enjoy fine wine, and I'm learning about the increasingly popular craft beer industry. This market and the concept are extremely popular in other areas, so I'm trying to tap into it.

What local purveyors can people expect to find?
We'll be using a bunch of local farms. Swank Farms, Palmetto farms, Fudge Farms. We're going to source out as many producers as we can locally. Now, if we happen to get truffles from Italy it will be a different story. [Laughs] But we'll use local fish from South Florida and the Keys instead of fish flown in from the Mediterranean or Alaska.

It seems like the bar factors in highly with the concept. How late will it stay open?
We'll be open late, to around 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and 1:30 during the week. The other aspect of the bar scene I didn't mention is we're doing these creative muddled drinks. We'll have an herb garden on the bar and fresh-made fruits and mixtures. We have a really creative guy and gal that are doing these drinks with ingredients like jalapenos and tequila.

Are you on schedule for June still?
Well, I'll know probably in the next few days, but the goal is June 17th.

Can we expect a grand opening event?
We're arranging that now with some local charities. We'll have a soft opening and test the kitchen and staff and then within a few weeks have an event.

Lastly, how will Mancini's change with the reopening in August?
What's really cool about Mancini's, which will be between Rocco's and M Bar by the way, is I've redesigned the interior completely. We pulled the outside wall up and made an outdoor wood burning pizza oven and an outdoor bar near the sidewalk. So you can literally step one foot off the sidewalk and there will be a cool bar with a wood burning pizza oven right there. It should be a huge draw. And the interior of the restaurant will have all sliding glass doors, so during nice weather, the whole restaurant will feel wide open. We have a big bar finally, which we never had at the original location. It's a much bigger restaurant as well, with an interior that seats about 100 or so, plus the outdoor patio. It's really looking like a big improvement.
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