Little Eater Opens at The North Market
Local chef Cara Mangini wants to bring vegetables to the center of your table. Not as a meager side dish, or a vegetarian-only alternative, but as the flavorful, colorful main attraction.
California native Mangini worked in the New York City magazine and beauty industry for a decade before realizing that her real interest lay in food. She attended culinary school at NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute, racking up restaurant experience on her nights and weekends. After living and working in Brooklyn, Paris, Italy, and Napa Valley (she held the title of “Vegetable Butcher” at Mario Batali’s Eataly market), she decided that her true passion was cooking with vegetables. She left work to develop her concept restaurant, which eventually manifested as Little Eater, making the move to Columbus around 2013.
Mangini’s Little Eater began as a pop-up restaurant at The Hills Market. It gained a steady following, reappearing in the market for three consecutive seasons. She acquired a North Market stall in the summer 2014, starting construction in October. The clean black-and-white stall is designed to showcase the colors of her produce, to which she credits Ohio’s local farmers.
“We’re really trying to highlight the work of all these people, showcase the work that’s already been done,” said Mangini, who develops her menu around what locally-sourced vegetables are available at the time. She sources local and organic as much as possible, partnering with Sunbeam Family Farm, Dangling Carrot Farm, Bonhomie Maple Syrup, and Snowville Creamery, to name a few of the purveyors.
Little Eater offers seven types of vegetable salads served by scoop, like roasted butternut squash with kale, quinoa, pepitas, and citrus vinaigrette. Crostini, sandwiches, salad, frittata, quiche, and baked goods are also available with veggie scoops, in addition to a carrot ginger soup with creme fraiche and chives. No single dish on the menu is without at least two types of vegetables. Mangini is currently in the process of developing a vegetable-based cookbook, set to release in Spring 2016.
Little Eater’s grand opening is today from 8am. to 5pm. Items will be available to eat in North Market, or made to-go. Little Eater will eventually offer catering, as well as vegetable-centric cooking classes.
“Veggies shouldn’t have to equate to sacrifice,” said Mangini, “When vegetable are in season, they should be a celebration of life that brings you to the table.”
For more information, visit www.littleeater.com.