THE FOOD: Simple but done well, delicious and fresh.
The grilled prawns (caught by local fishermen from that very lagoon) were absolutely divine and the chicken & pork ravioli made from scratch also delicious. From my experience, Mangrovia is also one of the only places to get a decent glass of wine in Sri Lanka. For our second time, we ordered the prawns again plus the prawn ravioli and the chicken in wine sauce. Not one dish could be faulted.
Some negative reviews on here just don't seem to understand what Mangrovia is about. This is the Sri Lankan rainforest, not molecular gastro dining in New York. This is Italian classic, not overdone or overdressed, all seafood sourced from the lagoon and bought that morning from boats that pull right up to the restaurant, meaning your meal is super fresh in addition to executed well.
Madhu (owner and chef) imports many of her non-raw ingredients in small batches from Europe into Sri Lanka at quite a cost so those reviews saying that this moderately priced restaurant is overpriced need to understand the what, the how and the quality of what they eat better or just go back to the cheap curries and watered downed cocktails along the beach.
THE PLACE: Tranquil, romantic, casual yet with it's own simple yet chic style, set in among the mangroves on a lagoon's waterfront.
The food was so good and the setting so lovely, that night we booked to come back for another dinner, and stay overnight at one of their 2 bungalows. For our second time, having got there late afternoon, my husband and I shared wine with Madhu and chatted with her while she prepared for that night's dinner.
The bungalow itself was stunning, with a quality eco-chic style making it feel high end despite the very reasonable price. It was immaculately clean. Included in the accommodation cost was an outstanding traditional Sri Lankan breakfast with multiple dishes that was worth the money alone! Waking up in that environment is the perfect way to start any day. The bungalows were only recently completed and it is my opinion that they should charge more if they want to make it worth it for themselves!
THE SERVICE: Madhu is a humble but worldly Sri Lankan who lived just outside of Rome for many years. She came back to Sri Lanka with her lovely French husband to start this place, and they have done it well. They welcome you as if friends. They live the kind of calm and peaceful lifestyle that hipster dreams are made of, and that vibe definitely rubs off on you. I was so chilled out by the time I left! We would have stayed longer if we didn't have a flight to catch!
Mangrovia was a highlight of our Sri Lankan trip.
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