When my friend Lucia asked me to join her and husband David for a meal at La Mia Mamma – a restaurant with real Italian mammas in the kitchen – it was an offer impossible to resist. Well, I did actually want to see my friends most of all! But the chance to enjoy an authentic Italian meal in the centre of London – King’s Road, Chelsea – cooked by a mamma, was an exciting prospect too.
The restaurant opened only recently and their concept is that every three months they celebrate a different region of Italy and ‘import’ a real Italian mamma from that region to oversee the kitchen, where her recipes will be cooked. Their first region is Sicily and that’s the food we enjoyed last night.
The resident mamma will be found in the window making pasta, or last night Sicilian arancini. She’d fried some freshly for Lucia and David as they walked in and so when I arrived, pretty much on time, they were already tucking in to some food. A real ‘mamma’ welcome! The arancini were delicious. These breadcrumb-coated rice balls filled with things like mozzarella and maybe some peas and meat, can sometimes be a huge disappointment – too dry, too heavy. But La Mia Mamma’s were excellent.
There are actually professional chefs in the kitchen too and you can choose to eat either the ‘Mamma’s Menu’ (a minimum of 2 people) with food from the current region, or A la Carte with dishes from all over Italy. Of course there was no question that we’d go for the Mamma’s Menu. This is priced at Antipasti + Pasta (£28), Antipasti + Main (£33) or Antipasti + Pasta + Main (£38). The antipasti is to share and the price also includes an Aperol spritz, dessert and coffee.
The interior is attractive in an informal, Italian trattoria way. We arrived quite early – 6.45pm – but it filled up and people who hadn’t reserved a table were being turned away.
Food came quite quickly. There were lots of antipasti dishes – some cold and a plate of hot. The Aperol spritz hadn’t yet come and so I asked about it; it was on its way. I’d imagined it was an aperitivo to have before the meal. I rarely drink anything stronger than wine but had thought it would be fun to begin. However, I wasn’t keen on drinking Aperol spritz actually with my meal so said I’d prefer wine and was told I had to pay extra for that.
All the dishes were explained to us by a friendly waitress. Ricotta with caponata, roasted peppers and courgettes …
… mozzarella with pistachio and balsamic reduction; a kind of baba ganoush, though not smoky, but delicious.
The plate of hot (well nicely warm) food included frittata, arancini, and a delicious fluffy potato ‘pie’.
It was all very good, clearly freshly prepared and cooked, but a lot of food. We were glad we’d gone for the first option of ‘antipasti + pasta’.
Lucia chose Pesto di pistacchi e ricotta – home-made pistachio pesto and ricotta with pasta. It was excellent – and luckily for me Lucia gave me a taste. The pistachio flavour stood out but didn’t overwhelm. It was a great dish.
David chose Cavatelli con pomodorini e pancetta di maialino dei Nebrodi – Pasta shells served with Sicilian cherry tomatoes & Italian bacon made from a breed of pig near Messina. He said it was very good but I didn’t take a photo – I’d thought he’d ordered the same as me and by the time I realised he hadn’t, it was too late for a photo!
I had Gamberoni e zucchine – pasta with king prawns and courgettes.
It was an excellent dish and I was particularly impressed by the prawns, which were so sweet and delicious and perfectly cooked so very tender.
For dessert, David had Mousse di coco e Nutella – coconut mousse with Nutella, which he said was very good, and Lucia and I had Ricotta e trance – ricotta and oranges. This was a kind of cheesecake with the ricotta on some sponge. There was a nice orange flavour to it and I liked it a lot.
I finished with an espresso; my friend macchiatos.
It was a good meal and lovely to spend the evening with my friends. The food was excellent but the antipasti dishes were all heavy and rich; it was as if they were trying a little too hard to show off their skills. I would have been happier with less and certainly some lighter, fresher dishes included too. And I was a little peeved that I had to pay extra for a glass of wine, which took my bill to about £40 rather than £30, once service was included. If they’re going to include a drink in the price, to only offer Aperol spritz isn’t reasonable. Not everyone likes it and not everyone – like me – wants to drink it with a meal. But overall, La Mamma Mia is a great experience; a fun idea that works well and you can be guaranteed some authentic Italian food in a friendly and lively atmosphere.