Step off the Moor and into Falmouth's Mangia and you will find yourself in a delightfully cosy bubble of Italia.

Settling into my chair the illusion was spoiled somewhat by the neon face of the Colonel beaming at me from the KFC opposite, but nonetheless I decided to focus instead on the rustic decor and relaxing bossa nova pop song covers of my chosen eatery.

The atmosphere was welcoming if a little over familiar, this making it feel all the more authentic.

Stomachs rumbling, my partner and I chose our starters: I went for the focaccia bread and she decided to sample the arancini.

I knew we were in for a treat after my first bite. The focaccia was incredibly rich and perfectly seasoned with herbs and sea salt.

My companion loved the arancini although I was a little disappointed. It was a generous portion with a respectable quantity of cheese, which scored a few points, but the flavour was lacking and it did not come close to a similar dish I'd had in Milan earlier this year.

The mains, however, were absolutely fantastic.

Falmouth Packet:

I had the veal saltimbocca – it was stunning. Very well presented, (trust me when I say the picture does not do it justice) with asparagus on the side and fresh sage perfectly complementing the combination of veal and prosciutto.

The real star of the dish was the sauce: an incredible smoky, meaty, mushroomy concoction with a superbly satisfying richness and depth of flavour.

At the risk of sounding glib, it is dishes like this one that truly fill you with wonder. How does a person actually transform a selection of ingredients into such a creation? What sort of sorcery is going on in Mangia's kitchen that allows them to produce something of this calibre?

For anyone who considers themself something of an amateur cook, this sends a clear message: don't even try. Leave it to the professionals, because there are levels to this art that the beginner can hardly comprehend.

One gripe that needs to be addressed is the wine. Usually at an Italian restaurant you would expect a decent Italian wine, but the Nero d'Avola was not that, and at £23 per bottle it left something of a sour taste.

Nonetheless, if you haven't yet visited Mangia: go. If you have visited Mangia: go again. And again. After my meal I will certainly be doing just that.

Key information

Our cost (two people, three courses and bottle of wine): £66.95

Contact: The Moor, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3PN, 01326 312320

Opening times: 6pm-9pm Tuesday to Thursday, 6pm-9.30pm Friday and Saturday. Closed on Sunday and Monday.


Atmosphere: 4/5

Décor: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Food Standards Agency Food Hygiene Rating: 5/5

In order to ensure objective reviews, the Mystery Diner is carried out on an independent basis without the prior knowledge of the establishment.