A new Samuel Mancino's Italian Eatery location on Elkhart's east side has sandwiches people have come to savor, a new look, and perhaps most importantly, Vic's Home Made Ice Cream.
The ice cream has been made in Middlebury for 73 years. Paul and Deb Heinrich purchased the restaurant at 422 S. Main St., Middlebury, last year and added Mancino's menu after remodeling. They call the Vic's/Mancino's concept The Ice Box.
The Heinrichs were the first to open an Elkhart County location of Mancino's, a small Midwestern-based chain. The location in Summit Ridge Plaza opened in the early 1990s. They opened another at S.R. 19 and Mishawaka Road in Elkhart, where they introduced Vic's to Elkhart over the winter.
Earlier this summer, they closed the Summit Ridge location and moved to 23810 U.S. 20, a half-mile west, into a new plaza the Heinrichs had constructed. Designs Unlimited, a furniture and interior design store which gave the new restaurant its look, is moving into the plaza soon, said Deb.
The restaurant's look is different than other Mancino's in the county, including ones the Heinrichs don't own in Goshen, Nappanee and the north side of Elkhart. Deep colors and prints of Italian scenes are on the walls. The ice cream is served from under an awning in a section of the restaurant with tile floor and the look of an ice cream parlor.
It's a restaurant with a split personality, but that's fine when one of them is devoted to the cold, sweet treat. Customers have commented positively on the new decor. "They love it, love it, love it," said manager Kris Bloom.
The Mancino's menu includes some good options. The pizza is better than that of many chains, but I'm more likely to order a sandwich. The bread for sandwiches is baked fresh daily, not from frozen dough, but a dough mixed at each restaurant.
Grinders -- another name for the sizable hot sub sandwiches -- are around $5 for 8 inches, $10 for 16. The smaller ones aren't small and are often too much for one person.
The chicken bacon club is the best seller at the Heinrichs' locations, but the Italian combo with ham, sausage and salami is also popular. I tend to favor steak or the Mancino's club with ham, turkey, bacon and cheese.
Breadsticks, made with the same dough as the sandwiches and put in the conveyor oven, sell well, particularly at the new location, said Deb.
Ice cream sales are strong. Customers are ordering a wide variety and some of the classic flavors popular in Middlebury aren't as well known yet. "Lemon doesn't sell here like it does in Middlebury. Butter pecan does though," said Bloom.
Specialty sundaes -- strawberry shortcake ($4.29), brownie delight ($3.79) and banana split ($4.75) -- were unveiled at the new location and will be put on the menu in other locations the Heinrichs own. Quarts and half-gallons are available at the Elkhart locations by special order. I'm glad for that, but have to plan ahead if I want to take home the Haitian vanilla or raspberry.
The new location is also the first the Heinrichs own that has a game room and televisions. At lunch one day last week, diners watched CNN stream news about the tragedy in London.
For those who don't want television or want to smoke as they eat, the outdoor seats beckon. The outdoor seats have been a hot spot for customers, even on hot days. The Heinrichs hope to add some similar seating to the Middlebury location.
"Things are going pretty good," said Paul.
* Mark your calendar. Greg's Volcano Pizza at Parkmor Plaza, Elkhart, will sell sausage sandwiches from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or while supplies last) on July 20-22. I'll be there to savor the goodness that comes from Italian sausage prepared over charcoal.
* Chalet Party Shoppe, 5230 Beck Drive, Elkhart, will have its fourth annual charity wine and food tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Under the tent in the parking lot, food from a number of local restaurants will be paired with wine, spirits and microbrewed beers. The goal for the event, which includes a silent auction and doorprizes, is $15,000 to benefit local hospice efforts. Tickets are $20, available from the C.R. 17 store and locations in Goshen and Middlebury.
* Comings and goings:
Paradise Restaurant has opened at 1105 W. Pike St., Goshen, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fletcher's RiverWalk Cafe, 115 E. Lexington Ave., Elkhart, closed prior to the Elkhart Jazz Festival. The restaurant was formerly Agostino's.
Appeteazers, 1305 Lincolnway East, Goshen, is closed and on the market.
Work is progressing on an Italian restaurant for downtown Goshen and on Cici's Pizza on U.S. 33 near Lowe's. New York Buffet, a Chinese restaurant, is being planned for one of the storefronts near Panera Bread on the edge of Goshen.
* Elkhart EnviroCorps is having a vegetarian cooking class at the Elkhart Environmental Center, 1717 E. Lusher Ave., at 1 p.m. July 16. The cost is $2 per person. Call 293-5070 to register.
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