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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Italian nights at bakery put ‘Proof’ in pasta

Patrons+at+Proof+Bakery+enjoy+the+ambiance+and+homemade+pasta%2C+made+by+owner+TJ+Manna%2C+every+Thursday+night.
Ivy Rose Ball | The Reflector

Patrons at Proof Bakery enjoy the ambiance and homemade pasta, made by owner TJ Manna, every Thursday night.

For the past few years, Proof Bakery on 109 W. Main St. has offered flaky and delectable pastries, cakes and cookies in Starkville.
With the bakery’s colorful posters of musicians from Harry Styles to Willie Nelson, mismatched metal furniture and an open kitchen, the funky establishment has made a name for itself in the community.
Proof offers more than sweet treats on for the weekend or a hip hang out, though. A few months ago, owner TJ Manna decided to make homemade pasta every Thursday at her shop.
I knew I wanted to be a part of one of those nights dedicated to carbohydrates and live music.
I made my reservation and invited two friends. Before long, I sat in anticipation of my spinach ravioli with mushroom and garlic sauce.
As I waited, I was immediately charmed by the Mason jar glasses and artsy atmosphere in the space. I snacked on the bread-basket appetizer, which comes with mozzarella cheese and olives. I felt fancy and special, yet at home.
Before dinner, Manna discussed what encouraged her to start pasta nights last year.
She responded with one word at first: family. Manna spoke about her aunt, who raised her.
 “My aunt’s Italian boyfriend would always make pasta,” Manna said. 
Manna said she has fond memories of pasta and wanted to make more of those memories at Proof after City Bagel Cafe, which had a pasta night, closed a couple of years ago.
Manna said tagliatelle was her favorite pasta to cook, and I watched her roll long strands of pasta in her kitchen. I could tell the tagliatelle took a different type of concentration than the stuffed ravioli, which Manna claimed to be another favorite.
When our food arrived, I could not help but marvel at the size of the ravioli and the creamy mushroom and garlic sauce filling. The mushrooms made the meal earthy, and green spinach brightened the plate. I noticed many customers savoring the Bolognese tagliatelle as well.
The atmosphere of Proof was amazing, as Jimmy Redd, a local musician, played Van Morrison covers to a crowd of diners. Redd, who has performed at Proof for six months, said he plays “all sorts of music for all sorts of events.”
After hearing his covers of The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Fleetwood Mac, I do not doubt his musical talent. He seemed to play every note on the piano, and he hit every high note he sang.
I considered Proof’s pasta nights one of Starkville’s hidden gems. The pasta tasted delicious, while the music made me dance.
After great conversation with dear friends, we finished the night with a homemade s’more dessert. From the fluffy marshmallow to the buttery pastry to the rich chocolate spread, Manna’s unique twist on a classic combination was the perfect end to our meal. We even toasted our marshmallows for our sweet s’more sandwiches.
Manna’s pasta creations cost $30 in advance. I highly recommend scheduling your dinner weeks ahead of time, so you can assure you have a spot, but I think the planning is worth the trouble.
With one step inside this bakery, Manna will amaze you with her pasta skills. After all, the proof is in the pasta.

About the Contributor
Rowan Feasel, Staff Writer
Rowan Feasel is a junior English major. Rowan is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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Italian nights at bakery put ‘Proof’ in pasta