In 1987, Cathy Mancuso opened up an Italian restaurant in far west Ft. Worth for the simple reason that there wasn't any Italian eateries out that way. Coming from Utica, NY where her Dad ran a place called Nash's for many years, Cathy comes from the New York tradition of making high quality Italian meals for the public at large. She would have a hard time finding a more incongruous spot than this.
We've had good luck at the RJG recently in finding Old School Italian hole in the wall's: Siciliano's in Garland and I Fratelli in Irving are but two examples. Add Mancuso's to the list. We have others to spring on you, including the RJG's favorite restaurant, and we hope to write about them in the coming months ahead.
As we mentioned before, the Mrs. and I like to use Saturday's for our "road games" as it were, and try places outside of NE Tarrant. We first visited Mancuso's in the summer of 2007, and this is our first return visit. It's quite a haul south and west, but not too bad without traffic on a Saturday evening.
Even though Mancuso's opened in 1987, there's almost nothing about the place that gives you the impression that we live in 2009. If you're looking for a time warp to 1962, then Mancuso's is the place to experience that. That alone gets you major points at the RJG. It's about the food and only about the food. As it should be. This is a place that should be experienced after dark, where you can imagine it's 20 degrees outside and you share the warmth of conversation with friends and family. In an earlier time, it would be filled with cigarette smoke, which I guess we should all be grateful that doesn't exist here now. But I still had that mental image.
Remember when all Italian restaurants had black and white photos signed by the stars and starlets of the day? It was a credibility thing. Mancuso's still does that. And where does Tony Bennett eat when he's in town for a concert? Mancuso's! Good enough for Tony, good enough for the RJG.
At this point I don't need to tell you that they do all the basics well. Pasta's (though we were disappointed that the default isn't al dente), red sauce, chicken parm, sausage, meatballs, meat sauce, salad, etc... it's all done the old way - heavy on good taste, long on quality service and short on gimmicks. The cappuccino pie for dessert was delicious. And house wines are decently priced. Check out their menu from the website I have listed on the bottom. That's all you need to know.
Even though I've listed Mancuso's in White Settlement, technically it's in Ft. Worth. Mancuso's is at the intersection of White Settlement Rd. and I-820, on the west side of I-820. The east side is White Settlement. Close enough for me.
When Cathy Mancuso opened up her restaurant, there was nothing there but cows and land. Today the intersection resembles an Interstate truck stop, with large gas stations, motels and big-chain fast food outlets. Hidden behind this Americana mess is Mancuso's - the perfect roadside find.