Local chefs put their culinary skills to the test earlier this month during the MangoMania food contest. Dishes featuring mangos ranged from appetizers to desserts and were sampled by celebrity judges who determined the winners of the event.
Earning two ribbons was a newcomer to the contest, the Island Grill, which took first place in the desert category and a second place for a unique entree. The winning dessert was a mango cheese cake created by the lead cook at the Island Grill.
According to Island Grill chef Bob Mattia, his dessert is a light cheese cake on a graham cracker crust topped with freshly sliced mangos and a mango glaze.
The Island Grill at the Winn-Dixie shopping plaza is making a name for itself in the area as the winners of this year’s MangoMania dessert contest. Pictured are Island Grill chef Bob Mattia, servers Joe and Ryan Mattia and owner Ron Mattia.
"We are now serving the cheese cake at the restaurant and it has become very popular," said Mattia. "I like to tell my guests that, like everything else I prepare, what makes the cheese cake special is that it is made with love."
According to Lisa Benton with the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce, the cheese cake was such a big hit, it has inspired a new category for judging in future food contests.
"When we were clearing the dishes away at the judging table, Robert Van Winkle from NBC-2 said don't take the cheese cake away, so next year we will have a category called 'don't take that away' for submissions to the MangoMania food contest that are just that good," Benton said.
The second place entree prepared by Mattia was a shrimp salad wrap.
"I made the wrap with local shrimp, mangos, fresh chives, basil and sour cream wrapped in the tomato basil tortilla," said Mattia. "The only thing I regret is that we were not able to attend the event, but this was good exposure for the restaurant."
New to the island, the Island Grill opened for business on March 10 offering breakfast and lunch six days a week. Prior to opening, the restaurant, formerly Capt. Mike's Island Cafe, was closed for more than eight months.
"Last summer, the company I worked for was down-sizing and I found myself out of a job. We used to come to the island quite a bit to eat at the Dock, before it was Capt. Mike's and when I found that the restaurant was closed I immediately called my brother Bob," said owner Ron Mattia. "He thought re-opening the restaurant was a great idea and after several months of cleaning, repairing and replacing everything in the place, we opened for business."
After retiring from years on the road as a tractor trailer driver, Bob Mattia was employed as the kitchen manager of Howley's Restaurant in West Palm Beach. He later became a breakfast cook before agreeing to man the kitchen at the Island Grill.
"Our goal is to prepare meals that make people feel like they are guests at our home. We specialize in comfort foods like meatloaf and turkey open-faced sandwiches, salads, homemade soups and homemade pies," said Mattia. "We want our customers to come in, bring the newspapers, enjoy a cup of coffee and a meal and leave here satisfied and happy with their experience."
While new to the island, the Mattias have wasted no time getting involved and in addition to participating in the MangoMania cooking contest, they are also members of the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce, participated in the July 4 parade and contributed to the island fireworks show that also took place on Independence Day.
The Island Grill is located in the Winn-Dixie shopping center between CVS Pharmacy and Domino's Pizza. It is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call the restaurant at 849-2125.