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Saturday 6 October 2018

La Mia Mamma – Italian Regional Cuisines Cooked by a Local Mamma!

Name: La Mia Mamma

Where: 257 Kings Road, London, SW3 5EL, https://www.lamiamamma.co.uk/

Cost: The Mama's Menu, for a minimum of 2 people, is available in three possible combinations: antipasti to share and pasta for £28 per person; antipasti to share and a main for £33; while for those with gargantuan appetites, the antipasti to share, pasta and main course costs £38 per person.  All three menus include an Aperol Spritz, a dessert and an espresso coffee.

About: Opened as recently as June 2018, La Mia Mamma on buzzing Kings Road presents an unusual concept of food cooked by an Italian Mamma (mother) from one of 20 regions of the country.  At the time we were there, this was the Sicilian Maria Concetta. The aim is to offer genuine home cooking as you might eat in the Mamma's house. Each Mamma is flown in for a residency of three months, and other regions planned in the near future include Puglia, Campania and Calabria.  Pasta is freshly made on the premises every day.

For those who do not want to try the regional Mamma's menu, the a la carte menu has a selection of national dishes to choose from, though the menu is reassuringly short.

What We Ate: We opted for the antipasti and pasta menu at £28 per person, including an Aperol Spritz, dessert and espresso coffee. The meal started with a generous selection of antipasti, chosen by Maria.  I was expecting a few slices of Parma ham, cheese and olives, but what arrived was much more interesting and varied.

There was a board with 3 types of vegetable antipasti: Sicilian caponata (grilled aubergine) with stracciatella (the cheese from the heart of the burrata); peperonata (simmered peppers) with onions and olives and fried courgette escabeche, with mint, garlic, vinegar and oil; ricotta cheese with crumbled pistachio and balsamic glaze.

The panzerotti, like small fried calzone, were filled with ricotta cheese, ham and tomato sauce. They were clearly freshly made, authentic and delectable. 

A round platter with four other antipasti included the gateau di patate (a little potato cake) with mozzarella and cooked ham; aubergine frittata; a large arancini rice ball filled with spinach and cheese. Best of all was the meatloaf with chunky shreds of meat covered in melting mozzarella cheese. They were all well seasoned and rich.

We also had a couple of fried pizzette topped with ricotta cheese, tomato and basil.

The antipasti were a meal in themselves I thought, although to my palate they were a tad too substantial and carb heavy (and I eat a lot). I enjoyed them, and what they lacked in sophistication they more than made up in flavour and generosity.

For our pasta dishes, we had the Pasta Nasciata del Detective Montalbano - oven-baked rigatoni with beef Bolognese sauce, cooked ham, boiled eggs, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  This was the fictional detective Inspector Montalbano's favourite pasta dish, and was rich and delicious, rather like a good home-made lasagna.

The other pasta was Pesto di Pistacchi and Ricotta. A quintessential Sicilian dish with home-made pistachio pesto, and Busiate pasta (a long twisted macaroni-shaped pasta from Sicily), this was creamy but to my palate lacked seasoning.

For dessert, we had the Tiramisu al Pistacchio. This was absurdly good, with the magnificently flavoursome caramelised Pistacchio Verde di Bronte DOP from Sicily, a layer of pistachio cream over a base of whipped sweet mascarpone, topped with caramelised pistachios.

The Cannolo Scomposto is the restaurant's deconstructed take on the popular Sicilian dessert, and in this version, rather than being in tubular form, there were layers of crisp pastry dough, covered in a sweet creamy ricotta and crumbled pistachios. This was light, crunchy and delectable.

What We Drank: There are 6 cocktails all priced at £9.50, with a selection of wines by the glass (125ml), ranging from £5.95 to £11.

The Aperol Spritz was well made and refreshing.  With my meal, I had a glass of Primitivo (£6.75) - robust, full bodied and with smooth tannins. The espresso was strong, rich and authentically Italian.

Likes: The baked rigatoni with Bolognese sauce was wonderful, but the stars of the meal were the two desserts. These can be ordered separately at £5.50 each. Excellent value set menus, friendly and well-informed waiting staff. 

Dislikes: I loved the antipasti but was full after eating them. The portion was commendably generous but carb-heavy (perhaps less pastry?). 

Verdict: For an authentic experience of Italian regional home cooking, La Mia Mamma is the real deal. I look forward to learning more about other regions of Italy over the coming months there. Recommended.

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