Signature Dish: Manina is open in full force

Dec. 21—Paul and Caroline Benkert opened Manina, an American wood-fired pizzeria with house-cured meats, seasonal plates, cocktails and wines, in Urbana in July. The restaurant's menu, which changes daily and features dishes made from locally and organically grown ingredients, has "quick and little" options like pickled sausages and smoked trout and small plates like their Stretched to Order Mozzarella served on house focaccia and Chesapeake Catfish Cakes. Main courses include half a dozen wood-fired pizzas and large plates like Heritage Pork Porterhouse and cast-iron chicken. There is also a Manina in Season tasting menu, which offers a choice of five or seven courses and includes a pizza and a selection of dishes that may or may not be on the menu. In the months that the Benkerts were gearing up to open, Paul would be at the restaurant from dawn until dusk, creating the menu, he said. Caroline dubbed him the Monk of Manina. Benkert still arrives at Manina well before it opens. Being the only one in the restaurant allows him peace and quiet to develop the restaurant's menu for the day. When most of the regular staff arrives in the early afternoon, the energy shifts to "full force, full-throttle prep mode and thinking is out the window," he said.


3290 Bennett Creek Ave., Unit A, Frederick




Hours: Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Mondays.

Price: Pizzas range from $19 to $26 and entrees generally range from $32 to $60. The menu changes daily.

Executive chef, owner and founder Paul Benkert recommends: The Coppa and Cress wood-fired pizza, a classic pizza finished with house-cured coppa, which is pork shoulder meat, and watercress.

— Jack Hogan

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan