Little Eater

Little Eater: Website | Facebook | Instagram
Interviewee: Cara Mangini, Owner
Location: inside the North Market, 59 Spruce Street, Columbus, OH 43215
 

Cara Mangini, Owner

Cara Mangini, Owner (photo credit: littleeater.com)


 
Q | What are the most popular items on your menu? Why?
A | Scoops of our seasonal vegetables are the most popular and the best way to taste everything that is in season at any given moment. We feature seven locally-sourced salads and vegetables every day that are served by the scoop. You can choose up to four scoops, and mix and match them to make a meal. The Parisian lentil salad with spring crudités is really popular right now, as is the asparagus, mint and quinoa, and the ramp pesto couscous. (A warm cheddar biscuit with honey butter to go with a plate of scoops, in our opinion, is always a good idea!) Also, our farm-egg dishes sell out every day! We make quiches, frittatas, and crostatas that feature beautiful, fresh, local eggs along and local produce. Right now our quiche is made with Snowville Creamery cream, caramelized shallots, local mixed mushrooms, and a beautiful gruyere from Laurel Valley Creamery. It’s one of our favorite things. Our frittata is extremely popular, it is a play on a spanish tortilla—we poach the potatoes in olive oil and garlic and combine them with kale and cheddar. Our spring crostata features Swiss chard and ricotta, wrapped in a flaky fennel-seed crust. We serve all of our egg dishes with one or two scoops of our vegetables so its a great way to get a little bit of everything.
 
Q | Are there any items NOT on your menu that are staff favorites (that you’d be willing to serve up to any customer who asked)?
A | We love adding a scoop of vegetables into a bowl of soup. It’s strange, I know. We would never serve a customer soup this way, but we would also never stop anyone from trying it on their own! For the right vegetable scoop and the right, soup, it’s delicious.
 
Q | Clearly you believe in “eating your vegetables!” For someone who may not be as in love with their veggies as you and I, what is a good dish to try first?
A | Our sandwiches and crostini are fantastic “gateway” to other vegetable-centric ones and will certainly peak everyone’s interest in vegetables. We use Italian ciabatta, made by a Columbus baker, Matt Swint of Matija Breads. It is the perfect base for any vegetable and we feature them in combination with other ingredients that really allow vegetables to shine. These are not afterthought, measly veggie sandwiches. Our beet sandwich is layered with avocado, pickled onions, citrus-dressed greens and a local goat cheese that we whip with chives. Our roasted asparagus and egg sandwich with house-made tarragon mayonnaise is hearty and seriously delicious, too. All of our sandwiches and crostini come with scoops of vegetables so the skeptics can always try a more intimidating vegetable as a side.
 
Q | I’m always dying to know what chefs are eating! So as of right now (since I know the menu changes seasonlly!), what’s your favorite dish/combination of items?
A | I am always tasting dishes at the restaurant to ensure consistency, so when it is actually time to eat, I usually go for one of our lightest dishes. I go back and forth between the two green salads on our menu right now—Local Greens with Shaved Carrots, Radishes, Bulgur, Chickpeas, Cranberries, Lake Erie Creamery Feta, and Lemon Vinaigrette or Chopped Spinach Salad and Hirsch Apple Salad with Crumbled Egg, Pickled Onions, Toasted Almonds, and Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette. Most of our team goes for a crostini or a sandwich, or our local yogurt, granola, and seasonal fruit parfait.
 
Q | Where did the name “Little Eater” come from?
A | Little Eater is the loose translation of my last name in Italian. To me, it’s a sign that I was always destined to work with food and most importantly, share the produce-based food that inspires me.
 
A Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuit with 3 vegetable scoops: roasted asparagus, local mint and quinoa with scallions and citrus dressing; Parisian lentil salad with carrots, celery, radishes and dijon-sherry vinaigrette; couscous and arugula salad with dried currants, almonds and ramp pesto

A Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuit with 3 vegetable scoops: roasted asparagus, local mint and quinoa with scallions and citrus dressing; Parisian lentil salad with carrots, celery, radishes and dijon-sherry vinaigrette; couscous and arugula salad with dried currants, almonds and ramp pesto


 
Front: Swiss chard crostata with ricotta and fennel seed crust with a side of shredded carrots and black sesame seeds with cilantro and tahini dressing; back: mushroom and shallot quiche with Laurel Valley Gruyere with a side of kale, walnuts and spelt berries with cranberries, thyme and lemon

Front: Swiss chard crostata with ricotta and fennel seed crust with a side of shredded carrots and black sesame seeds with cilantro and tahini dressing; back: mushroom and shallot quiche with Laurel Valley Gruyere with a side of kale, walnuts and spelt berries with cranberries, thyme and lemon


 
Roasted beets, avocado and pickled onions with citrus-dressed greens, chives and Mackenzie Creamery Chevre

Roasted beets, avocado and pickled onions with citrus-dressed greens, chives and Mackenzie Creamery Chevre


 
Roasted asparagus and hard boiled egg with lemon-dressed arugula and mizuna and house-made tarragon aioli

Roasted asparagus and hard boiled egg with lemon-dressed arugula and mizuna and house-made tarragon aioli


 
Green Salad: mixed greens with carrots, radish, bulgur, chickpeas, cranberries, feta and citrus vinaigrette

Green Salad: mixed greens with carrots, radish, bulgur, chickpeas, cranberries, feta and citrus vinaigrette


 
Can't miss the bright white at the North Market!

Can’t miss the bright white at the North Market!


 
So chic.

So chic.


 
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like veggies. Cara’s delicious food will change your mind. And for those of you who already like veggies? Well, you’ve arrived in heaven.
 

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