A popular long-time Italian restaurateur is opening a new restaurant in Plano in a location he knows very well. The new restaurant is Mangia Bistro, and it's from Artur Pira, owner of the exceptional Aboca's Italian Grill in Richardson.
Mangia will open at 508 14th St., right off US-75, in a space that was previously home to Paesano's Ristorante, which Pira previously owned.
Paesano's was the first restaurant he opened back in 1997, where he established his crowd-pleasing formula of good-quality food, skillfully made and at a reasonable price — a formula he recreated at Aboca's, which he opened just a few exits down US-75 in Richardson in 2004.
In an area and at a time with few great Italian restaurants, Paesano's and Aboca's stood out, with pastas, pizzas, chicken, seafood, and risotto. Pira previously worked in 5-star kitchens, and that experience showed, in brightly flavored sauces and dressings made in-house.
Pira is also an excellent baker who bakes his own house breads, served warm and crusty with butter, plus dough for pizzas and calzones, plus bakery-caliber desserts including layer cakes, cheesecakes, and tiramisu. His baking prowess is like a secret weapon.
He sold Paesano's a few years back to focus on Aboca's, but still owned the building — which unfortunately suffered a damaging fire in 2017.
Pira took possession of the space again and has built an entirely new structure that will be home to Mangia. He's expecting to have it open by the first week of August.
Aboca has a comprehensive menu with every kind of pasta — lasagna, baked penne, manicotti, cannelloni, carbonara, gnocchi, and more. There are hearty red-sauce offerings and more delicate Northern-Italian-style dishes, as well.
Their signature dish is Chicken Aboca — chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, provolone, and basil in a spinach cream sauce, for $12.99. Most of their dishes are $9.99.
Mangia will be a little more ambitious than Aboca in terms of atmosphere and menu, but that doesn't mean bigger.
"It'll be very nice," he says. "The menu will be a little shorter and more selective, with some stellar appetizers, pastas, and salads, but also some items you might not expect at an Italian restaurant including some steaks."
Mangia will also have a full bar; Aboca's has beer and wine only.
They'll be open for dinner but also lunch, since that area around East Plano has a strong demand for lunch.
"We're finally coming back," he says.