| BAR MINGO: All about the grub. |
IMAGE: Darryl James
SUMMER LOVIN’: Approaching “fancy Italian row”—how I’ve mentally termed the strip of Northwest 21st Avenue that’s home to Serratto, Caffe Mingo and now Bar Mingo (811 NW 21st Ave., 456-4646)—I was a little worried that my flip-flops and general scuzziness might not be welcome. But, immediately up on entering, I was greeted by a friendly “sit wherever you want” and the warm, familiar sounds of Sam Cooke. My comfort level only rose from there: House cocktails ($8) like a fresh-squeezed Sidecar (brandy and citrus with a sugar rim) and the N’awlins traditional Sazerac, an anise-smelling rye and bitters concoction, were both plenty strong and plenty tasty. And the setting, though a touch foofy-upscale, was also quaint—beige and cream leather couches with unexpectedly bright, blue floral-patterned pillows line one corner, while more formal tables and bar seats fill up the main room. One entire wall is covered in rustic wood, and a giant chalkboard serves as a quick and artsy reference for the sleek spot’s mix-and-match antipasti options. But, boy, does that list sell Mingo’s hot and cold apps short: On a recent trip, “potatoes,” upon full-menu investigation, were found to be sautéed with garlic, rosemary and a fried egg (!), while “insalata” proved to involve cheese and pine nuts. Add mint-studded lamb meatballs, oysters crudo, mussels, chicken livers and salami-and-cheese plates to the mix ($8 each, $21 for three, $32 for five), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a super-fun—and absurdly yummy—drinks-’n’-snacks trip with a date or group of friends. Another typical Saturday night it was not.