Established in 1981, Mamma Mia have long been fixtures of Jericho and Summertown. And to celebrate their 40th, they invited Daily Info for a meal, the kind of birthday present we could get behind. Particularly as, after four decades of refinement, their cuisine is some of the best in our fine city.
Having started with a garlic bread (a fabulous take on this dish with pizza dough folded into a wrap packed with cheese and garlic. Our mains were a perfect demonstration of how effective Mamma Mia is at recreating the feeling of being in a pizzeria in some tourist spot in Italy, with flavours and textures that sometimes felt missed in other restaurants that attempt a culinary recreation. Our party chose two pizzas and a pasta dish – the proscuitto cotto e funghi for the children, pollo e spinaci and a heart bowlful of spaghetti alla bolognese for my partner and I. Mamma Mia doesn’t have a children’s menu but instead offers reduced sizes on their pasta dishes and the option to take home any pizza that proved too much. There was no need for such arrangements with their shared pizza as it was appreciatively wolfed down, with the five year old in particular enjoying having a dish the same size as their mum. The pollo e spinaci was a wonderful combination of toppings on a thin base cooked to perfection, whilst the Bolognese was exactly what I was craving on a Friday evening – hearty comfort food that could have been cooked at home but certainly nowhere near as well as the meal served in Mamma Mia.
As we were celebrating this wonderful establishment's birthday, puddings were absolutely in order. Our two younger members of the party were satisfied with ice cream, whilst my partner and I went with a wider selection. The tiramisu was recommend by our waiter and was an exceptional variant of this dish, the coffee giving it a kick without overwhelming the other flavours. The chocolate fudge cake was as scrumptious as such a dish can be and would not have looked out of place in a certain scene from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. And finally the tartufo, which neither of us had heard of, proved the hit of this course. As the menu puts it “zabaglione cream centre surrounded with ice cream & covered with crushed hazelnuts & cocoa”. Or to put it more simply, deliciousness-upon-deliciousness combining in every bite taken.
A quality gained upon returning to any great restaurant of late is each visit feels like a kind of homecoming. With such a long period where dining has been, at best, a complicated process and, at worst, something legally not allowed, this critic has gained a new appreciation for any meal out. Added to this is the fact that Mamma Mia pairs exceptional cuisine with a wonderful customer service, and this was a truly fabulous meal.