Mangia brings romance to Rivermont

Locally owned Italian restaurant offers Lynchburg fresh, organic options

Nothing says “I love you” as well as a delicious meal and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the restaurant choice for that special evening may very well say more to your date than you can before curfew rolls around.

Local flavor — Mangia’s employees, such as Larry Fournier, serve the Lynchburg community Monday through Saturday, serving up fresh food and rich atmosphere. Photo credit: Kate Powley

Mangia – Italian for “eat” – offers a solution to those looking for an alternative to the smorgasbord of restaurants that populate Wards Road and Candlers Station. Mangia is located on 2496 Rivermont Ave. in Lynchburg’s historic Rivermont district and features an extensive Italian menu and welcoming atmosphere.

Established in May 2009, Mangia is owned by Melanie and Dave Ellis. Although the couple does not have an Italian heritage, Ellis said that her husband – a graduate of culinary arts university Johnson & Wales – had experience with Italian cooking and the two decided to open up shop.

“We were trying to figure out what to call it,” Ellis said. “I remembered all of a sudden that my father, when I was a kid, before we’d have dinner, he’d say ‘Mangia!’ which means “eat” in Italian, even though he wasn’t Italian, and I just thought that was funny. It ended up being a family thing.”

Mangia’s menu features a wide variety of traditional Italian entrees ranging from multiple antipasto dishes to a lunch menu that boasts nine different kinds of paninis.

“We sell a lot of salads,” Ellis said. “The fried calamari is probably the most popular appetizer. The most popular pasta is a toss-up between the Bolognese sauce and the Gorgonzola cream sauce…as far as the classics go, the Saltimbocca is the most popular.”

“We do sliced-beef Carpaccio,” she said, noting that the dish was one of her personal favorites, “which is raw beef with arugula, capers and onions … I don’t think anywhere else in town has Carpaccio.”

Mangia features daily chalkboard-menu specials, as well as several other items that her husband prepares which are not listed on the menu, according to Ellis.

“We run specials at Mangia that are for everyone, as cheap as we can make it,” she said.

One of those specials is the $8 lunch, which includes any lunch item, the choice of a soda or tea and a piece of tiramisu, according to the menu. The special runs from Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“All of our food is cooked fresh and to order. We don’t buy anything prepared, we don’t have a freezer,” Ellis said, commenting on the value of the lunch special. “We make our own fries, we make our own bread. So an $8 lunch is a great deal.”

Mangia’s regular menu will be available on Valentine’s Day, as well as the restaurant’s daily specials. Ellis said business is expected to increase on the holiday.

“It’s really important for people to know that we’re a husband and wife team that own a business and that we make everything here fresh,” Ellis said. “I don’t think that people realize how many places they go that are serving microwaved, pre-prepared things from the freezer. We’re really proud that we make an effort to serve fresh, local, organic when possible, cooked-to-order food.”

For more information, including a full menu and details regarding reservations, visit Mangia’s website at

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