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Mamma Italia

This location is closed

By Michelle Gienow | Posted 6/15/2005

With its vinyl-tablecloth ambiance and fine view of the ministorage facility, Mamma Italia comes off like any strip-mall pizzeria. If you swing open the door, however, the pungent aromas of fresh herbs and lots of garlic announce that real-thing Italian cooking is going on inside.

A classic cheese slice ($1.85) boasting tender, whisper-thin crust and complex marinara was very good. But the farfalle montese ($13.95), a big mound of bow-tie pasta smothered in lump crab and fine fat shrimp in velvety tomato-cream sauce, was absolutely outstanding. And I was delighted to find my favorite Italian street snack sold here under the unassuming title of “Spaghetti Pie” ($5.25), a towering wedge of noodles layered with peppers, zucchini, and mozzarella, a delicious way to make pasta into portable finger food.

Mamma’s proprietors have Neapolitan roots, so I sampled la verace pasta Napolitana, linguine alle vongole—white, never red, ragazzi, please ($8.25 lunch, $12.95 dinner). This simple dish depends absolutely on excellent ingredients—garlic, clams, butter, and wine—but Mamma Italia’s version omitted the wine, and the dish limped along like a car with three wheels. The veal pizzaiola ($12.95) would have been better had the cutlets been pounded thin, but the dish’s braise of tomatoes, capers, olives, and basil—plus, of course, lots and lots of garlic—made this feel like a petty quibble.

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