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Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Mani Osteria & Bar: 'It's like dining in New York or dining in Chicago'

By Nathan Bomey

Downtown Ann Arbor restaurant Mani Osteria & Bar occupies the space that formerly housed Handicraft Furniture at the corner of Fifth and Liberty.

Adam_Baru_Mani Osteria.jpg

Adam Baru owns Mani Osteria & Bar at the corner of Fifth and Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

Six months after it opened, Mani is "unlike anything else in town" with "a low pulsating, vibrant, and bustling energy," Hour Detroit magazine reports in an profile story.

Owner Adam Baru told the magazine he plans to address a high noise level when the restaurant, which features pasta and gourmet pizza, is packed.

“The most interesting and surprising part of this for me,” Baru said, “is that so many younger people thank me for having a place where it’s like dining in New York or dining in Chicago, which is also sort of the way I was coming at this.”

Read the full Hour Detroit story here.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Mani Osteria? "It's like dining in New York or dining in Chicago," all right, with all the pretension. The noise level was the least of our problems on a visit over the summer. We were ushered to the counter seating in the back of the restaurant, without being asked if we minded sitting facing the cook staff all night. Room-temperature water was served in a large open glass bottle, like it was some kind of elixir. (Funny, but it sure tasted like Ann Arbor's overchrlorinated tap water.) My pizza came out first, and my husband encouraged me to eat it while it was hot. His arrived 15 minutes later, after I was done with the bulk of my meal. The crust was tasty, but the meager amount of toppings made it a rip-off. Really, is this what Ann Arbor diners want/deserve?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Four of us (two couples) ate there last night. The food was very good, but it was very noisy. I'm glad that Adam is going to address that. We could barely hear the server telling us the specials or explaining something, but worse is that the four of us could not really talk with each other as it became too difficult to yell across the table to be heard -- we ended up talking mostly to the half of the couple sitting right next to us. I don't think I will go back until the noise level is addressed as it made it a bit unpleasant, although the food and service was good. The atmosphere is somewhat like a cafeteria -- open with no barriers. Maybe some attractive sound barrier screens could be placed to both cut down on the noise and make it less like an open cafeteria look (although maybe that's what Adam was going for). Also maybe some cushions on the benches that run along the wall might help. Anyway, I wish Adam continued success.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

I really enjoyed the food and service when I visited Mani. But I must agree with the noise issue. A huge part of enjoying a meal or cocktails is sharing the experience with others. Unfortunately, I have not returned because it was not possible to enjoy a conversation amidst the din. If this problem could be fixed, I'd meet friends there constantly.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

The best place in Ann Arbor for great food, great service & great atmosphere! Those who say otherwise are those who don't want to see progression in Ann Arbor. We need new & exciting places to dine or enjoy happy hour after work. They do everything there very well& are so "not typical Ann Arbor" which is why it's thriving. Kudos to you Mani! Keep doing what you're doing to keep one section of Liberty vibrant!

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

We has a bad experience watching a food prep person eating while he was putting together a salad a few weeks ago and won't be going back.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

That is a major health violation.

Somewhat Concerned

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

It's an okay place, but those who say it is like dining in New York or Chicago must be tourists from Brighton who visit one or the other once every three years. It actually is more like dining in a noisy place in Ann Arbor.

Mike D.

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

I spend half my time in New York City (and none in Brighton), and I find Mani competitive with anything in New York in terms of food quality for the dollar. I challenge you to show me something as good as Mani's pickled tomatoes or hand-made pasta at any place in NYC that costs under $50 a head. The main difference is that the tables in Mani aren't as close together as a low-priced NYC joint, although the noise level is right up there!

Mike D.

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:14 a.m.

Well-deserved accolades. Mani is an oasis in Ann Arbor's culinary desert.

Mike D.

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

I guess it's a matter of perspective. You named 5 places, 3 of which are mediocre IMHO. Ann Arbor has fewer than a half-dozen eateries that are truly great for the money. Mani is one of them.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

Hardly a desert. Quite the contrary given A2's size. Vinology, paesanos, wahtever Eve Aronoff is doing, Zingerman's various iterations are distinctive and excellent . And now Mani


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

So...what makes it "like dining in New York or dining in Chicago"?

say it plain

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:55 a.m.

presumably that it isn't full of itself but mediocre--i.e., it tries to earn your business instead of trying to make you feel you should consider yourself lucky they bothered to serve you lol? don't know...haven't been there yet...just a hunch...


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

This place was a deserved success right out of the gate, noise notwithstanding.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

The food was very good, interesting and unusual. Unfortunately the restaurant is very noisy. Virtually every surface is hard and reflects the noise of the large crowds.