Mad for Monza in Manassas

When my dad flies down to visit, he lands in Manassas and sometimes it’s easier to grab lunch out there. Works for me, I’m loving the new restaurant searches! I’ve only seen a small part of the historic downtown, but so far it’s been deliciously quaint. This past visit, an Italian and Portuguese bar caught my eye. Monza turned out to be the perfect setting for either a quick bite or a longer catch-up visit.

For a Saturday around 12:30 it wasn’t busy at all. We had our pick of the tables and the servers were friendly. Before I dive into our dishes, I do have one question for them, and it’s about the Portuguese influences. My impression at first was the food would have an Italian and Portuguese fusion, however, everything seemed to be either American or Italian. I guess the Portuguese element comes into play with the cocktails?

Highlights
Spinach Artichoke Crab Dip
Drunken Smoked Bacon Mussels
Mushroom Risotto & Fillet Tips
Tortellini Crema Rosa

I’m a sucker for interesting and inventive appetizers. The way to my heart is through a few small bites of something phenomenal that leaves me wanting to order seconds and thirds. I really appreciated the options at Monza, which ranged from ahi tuna to charcuterie platters. I would definitely recommend the Baked Spinach Artichoke Crab Dip. Ahh!! This pot of creamy heaven has the perfect balance of crab flavor, artichoke, and cheese. If we come here again to meet my dad, I’ll definitely order that appetizer, it’s a favorite. We also enjoyed their calamari. Nothing stood out to amaze me with this, it’s your standard calamari, but solid flavors nonetheless. 

Emily ordered the Mushroom Risotto & Fillet Tips which was gorgeous. The fillet tips came out rare and juicy and definitely acted as the necessary addition to the risotto. My dad had Jack’s Special, Monza’s most popular dish. A creamy white wine lemon butter sauce blanketed capellini filled with shrimp, crabmeat, and scallops. My dad is always on the hunt for scallops in restaurants, which are actually surprisingly rare. When he does find some, inevitably there are only three and he’s unsatisfied. Finally! A place that actually put a good amount of scallops in it. 

Okay, so I messed up a little when I ordered. I pictured the mussel appetizer being small, because most places skimp on the shellfish, so I ordered this and a half order of pasta. Well, they don’t do half orders so I had the full plate of Tortellini Crema Rosa and Drunken Smoked Bacon Mussels. To my surprise, the mussels are like an entree size! I basically took home the whole plate of pasta because I filled up on the mussels, but it’s so worth it. I almost regretted ordering the mussels because the tortellini was impressive. The sauce definitely made it; I’ve started avoiding ordering red sauces at restaurants because no matter what I am never satisfied. I find them to be bland, but if it’s more along the lines of being creamy and thick, I’m all ears. 

After lunch, catching up, and hearing about Emily’s amazing trip to Hawaii (!!), we walked around a bit. We visited a small candle shop called Shining Sol; the owner was incredibly nice and offered tons of “flavor” combinations (have you ever noticed how much people refer to the candle scents as flavors?) They sell soy candles and even offer candle making classes – super cute idea for this small town. I typically choose candle scents that either smell like clean laundry or any of the “ocean breeze” or “waterfall mist” types. I love walking into a room that smells fresh, without any hints of something specific. The wick drives me crazy because it randomly started burning out after about the third use, but these candles last so long and smell incredible!

I’m excited to randomly escape the city and try more places in historic downtown Manassas. If you’re in the area, comment or let me know on social what your recommendations are!


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