Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mamma Maria's - Such an Amazing Dinner!

On Monday, Nick and I headed to Mamma Maria for a Valentine's Day dinner.  Although Valentine's Day kind of sneaked up this year, we randomly got our acts together in January to make a dinner reservation (thanks to Open Table's reminder email!).  Although we made this reservation early, many restaurants we wanted to try were no longer taking reservations.  When I saw Mamma Maria was available, though,  I booked it as quickly as possible.  I had been there for a rehearsal dinner a couple of years ago and had nothing but great memories of the food and setting.

Flash forward to Valentine's Day where I'm looking at the website in an effort to get an advanced peek at the menu and I see that it was going to be a prix fixe menu for the evening.  I almost canceled the reservation!  As I have said before, I am NOT a fan of prix fixe menus for "big nights out" because the food does not seem have the same quality as the regular menu on a normal night.  With only hours to go before Valentine's dinner, I figured it would be hard to find another option.  Also, even with the price fixed, there were at least 6 options each for main courses and appetizers - a lot more than you're usually offered - so we just went for it.  Thank goodness we did!  This was one of the best meals we have had in a long time.

To start off the evening, Nick came home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers that even had tulips, my favorite! 

They were so nice and bright during this cold and dark winter.  Really, I should have known then how lovely of a night we were in for!

At Mamma Maria, we sat in the smaller back room on the first floor that was painted in two tones of chocolate brown.  The room only had about 6 tables so it was an intimate setting and perfect for the occasion.  Needless to say my flash photography during the night was even a little embarrassing for me!  The wine list was really extensive, and the server seemed to have a good understanding of the different wines available.  Nick being a chianti/sangiovese lover, and I drink ALL read, we ordered one of the blends that was a reasonable price.

The Wine
The wine was a La Storia merlot/sangiovese blend that was very mild and smooth (read: easy to drink!). While we were waiting for our appetizers, we enjoyed a hearty white bread that had a great thick crust.   

Fresh Bread
Rather than butter, we got to pile one of the freshest pestos I've ever had.  I literally wanted to have them package some up for me to take home.

The Pesto
When they offered us more bread, we gladly accepted so that we could finish off the pesto - it was THAT good!  They also gave us a ramekin full of olives that were marinated in a rosemary oil.  Olives are one of my "yucks," but Nick thoroughly enjoyed them.

Even with the smaller menu, we had a tough time making decisions.  Nick settled on the Rabbit Polenta for his first course.

The polenta
The rabbit was a slow-cooked Vermont-raised rabbit in the Piedmont-style with creamy polenta, crispy pancetta, and fresh rosemary.  The rabbit with really tender and tasty, while the polenta had such a great texture to it - so creamy. The two flavors went together so well.
While there was a lobster gnocchi for an appetizer, I passed because I was having lobster for my main meal.  Instead, I had the Tuna Tartare.

Tuna Tartare
The Tuna tartare was prepared in a Venetian style with fresh cucumber and extra virgin olive oi.  This dish was so tasty.  The tuna just seemed so fresh and not over-powered by the cucumber or oil.  I ate it so slowly because I did not want it to end!

For the main course, I got the Lobster Pasta, which was a silky pasta agnolotti, filled with fresh Maine lobster and finished with pan-roasted wild mushrooms and crumbled guanciale.

Lobster Pasta
This dish consisted of 3 or 4 what I will call "raviolis" that were stuffed with lobster.  The difference here is that they basically took the meat out of the claw (yes THAT much), wrapped pasta around it and sealed it in.  The amount of lobster was tremendous - so much so that I even shared with Nick!  The pasta had such a great consistency.  It was not too doughy and really thin so it perfectly supported the lobster.  The mushrooms and the guanciale added just the right complementary flavors.  This was another dish I just did not want to end.  To me, successfully adding lobster to a dish can be difficult as it has a pretty distinct flavor.  For me, this was perfection on a plate. 

Nick looked to our server for his main dish because he was torn between the Osso Buco and the Frutta Di Mare Pasta.  Without hesitation, the server suggested the Osso Buco.  This dish literally turned heads as it entered the room.  He put it in front of Nick and I got jealous - it looked like a crown.

Osso Buco
The veal shank osso buco was prepared in the classic style with saffron risotto Milanese and topped with thin toasted sweet potatoes.  Again, the meat was so tender - it literally just fell off the bone.  The veal was perfectly set off by the risotto underneath.  Again the various components worked so well together. 

For dessert, Mamma Maria provided a sampler plate, which consisted of FOUR different things to taste.

Enough dessert for FOUR!
The first was a lavender panna cotta with a lavender and honey sauce (right).  The consistency of the panna cotta was perfect!  Not only that, this was the first time I have had a lavender flavored dish where I fully tasted the lavender.  The dessert was not too sweet and the honey flavor went well with the strong lavender flavor.  Then we moved onto the puff pastry with fig jam and a bit of whipped cream (left).  The puff pastry was amazingly light and flaky.

Next we moved onto to the apple tart with mascarpone cheese cream topping (front).  The mascarpone cheese was a great alternative to whipped cream, with just a bit of a stronger flavor.  The pastry surrounding the apples was, again, very flaky and the apples had a lovely cinnamon flavor.  All of the different components came together so well.  Finally, we had the chocolate fondue (back).  The bread here was more like a toast with powdered sugar - definitely the least sweet item - which actually worked out well in my book!  The chocolate had a rich coco flavor that was not too sweet, and it was fairly thick so that it coated the bread well and did not drip everywhere (yes, I say that from experience). 

Finally we topped off our delicious meal with some hot and frothy cappuccino.

We walked out of the restaurant completely satisfied and thinking that we had definitely just had one of our best dinners in Boston.  The prix fixe menu did not seem to affect the quality of the food at all, and if it did, I can only imagine how delicious the food is with out it.  Even the lobster dish had plenty to go around.  For us, the desserts were almost too much.  I mean we did not even think to stop at one of the many amazing pastry shops on Hanover Street to bring something home.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Mamma Maria to anyone looking for a fantastic meal.  While you will not find your hearty red sauces, you will not miss them either.  It really is the perfect place for an intimate dinner or with close friends. 

Mamma Maria on Urbanspoon


  1. I too celebrated Valentines Day here! What an incredible experience. I adored the Rabbit Polenta and wow the desserts were really something else. So glad to read your review and discover your fun blog!!

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