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Mamma Mia, Park Row: Review

 

Mamma Mia on Park Row is one of the stereotypical ‘traditional family-run Italian’ restaurants that are abundant in Bristol. It’s the type of place that always makes me think of the restaurant scene in “Lady And The Tramp” – red and white checked tablecloths and a tall candle on each table, the Italian flag and various other curios on the walls, Italian music playing gently in the background…right down, on one previous visit, to a heated argument in Italian in the kitchen, audible to the entire restaurant.

 

 

Our waiter, who looked unnervingly like Jeff Goldblum, spoke to us in Italian throughout our visit, except when he thought that we wouldn’t understand.

The laminated menus are extensive and traditionally Italian, but unless you have a knowledge of the country’s cuisine, you may struggle. Most of the menu sections – bar the pizzas – give just the Italian name and the price of each dish, but the Mamma Mia staff are happy to help with any questions. I’d also avoid looking at the prices alongside the menu on their website, if I were you, as I don’t think these have been updated since 1985 when the restaurant first opened…

Starters include the standard carb-heavy options of bruschetta and garlic bread, as well as items such as pate, snails and paprika-infused mushrooms.

Laura decided on the Insalata Caprese, which she’s a fan of due to its simplicity. “A sea of tomato” was how she described the plate that was presented to her: a massive portion of sliced tomato, mozzarella and basil (plus diced onions and olives), all drizzled with olive oil. She was happy with her choice, but pointed out that it’s “one of those dishes that’s hard to stand out and hard to get wrong”.

 

 

For me, the Melanzane Alla Parmigiana – an equally huge portion of grilled aubergines in a tomato sauce with basil and melted mozzarella (should it not be Parmesan…?), all served in a hot metal dish. The aubergine was well cooked, lovely and soft with a little crispness from the grill still remaining, and the tomato sauce was simple but enjoyable. If I had any complaint, it would be that the dish was a little cheese-heavy: a rare complaint for me, but it took away from the more delicate, fresh flavours of the aubergine, tomato and fresh basil leaves. If it had been the traditional Parmesan, I don’t think this would have been a problem.

 

 

Main courses are divided into multiple sections on Mamma Mia’s menu: choose from pasta, meat, chicken, fish or pizza. For me, a pizza – the Pizza Sorrentina – a woodfired base topped with Parma ham, mozzarella and olives. Simple, maybe, but very well done: the base was soft and fluffy inside but with the requisite crunch to the crusts, and the balance between toppings and base was just right. I felt guilty about having to leave some of it, but I’d been defeated by the starter…

 

 

Laura had ordered the steak Boscaiola, a generous portion of sirloin topped with mushrooms cooked in white wine and cream. Another Italian mamma sized portion here, not only in terms of the steak itself, but also the mounds of chips and salad that accompanied it.

Having asked for the steak to be served rare, she was happy with the way that it was cooked, and loved the richness of the porcini mushrooms that accompanied it. She raved about the chips, which were beautifully cooked, but again had to leave a lot of her meal.

 

 

Unsurprisingly, after the huge quantities of food that we had consumed, we decided to skip dessert and ask for the bill. At around £60 for two courses each, a soft drink and a 500ml carafe of wine (plus service), it was reasonable value for money, but not a standout evening. A solid option, though, if you’re in the area.

 

Find Mamma Mia on the Bristol Bites Directory…

 

14 Responses to Mamma Mia, Park Row: Review
  1. Sarah
    April 4, 2012 | 6:53 pm

    Sounds nice enough – but £60 for that??? Yowzer.

    • EmilyKnight247
      April 4, 2012 | 6:58 pm

      The steak was somewhere around the £16 mark, plus a 500ml carafe of wine thrown into the mix…it all adds up!

  2. Tony
    April 4, 2012 | 6:58 pm

    christ on a bike your reviews (& nights out) are boring as hell.

    • EmilyKnight247
      April 4, 2012 | 7:10 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Tony. If you don't enjoy them, there's no need to read them!

      Alternatively, if you'd like to write guest reviews on the site, you're more than welcome.

      • Laura
        April 4, 2012 | 7:17 pm

        Yes Emily, obviously if you could give us a review of the cocaine you take on your next night out, followed by the entertainment at the local strip club and your kebab on the way home we would all be very grateful…. :P

        This is a site for food blogs Tony, and I for one have found Emily's posts interesting and informative, and take her reviews into account when picking a restaurant to visit.

        If you don't enjoy her reviews and find them a waste of time, why do you read them and then take the time to comment?

    • bristol247
      April 4, 2012 | 8:29 pm

      Tony,
      Could you get in touch. I would like to invite you to submit an article in which you take on the big issues of the day. I think your insight would be invaluable and much appreciated by all.

  3. Ben
    April 4, 2012 | 7:25 pm

    Tony – may I ask what you do with your life?

  4. Tony
    April 4, 2012 | 7:32 pm

    get bored reading boring reviews Ben, wanna be friends?

  5. Anisha
    April 4, 2012 | 7:49 pm

    Your reviews are excellent and your nights out sound delicious. Lol @trolls and haters. Incidentally, I'm up for writing a guest review if possible at some stage??

    • EmilyKnight247
      April 4, 2012 | 7:54 pm

      Thanks Anisha! You're more than welcome to write guest reviews – can write about anything you'd like to! Just give me a shout when you're keen!

  6. Bobby
    April 5, 2012 | 12:11 am

    I agree with Tony. The reviews on this website are so dull. No life, no spark, no fun. For starter I had this, for main I had that, for pudding I had… Yawn! All in all, extremely boring.

  7. tim owen
    April 5, 2012 | 11:12 am

    Tony and Bobby = sad fuckwits.You are always gonna get trolls Em,these pricks probably eat at Cosmo,Flavourz or Sodding Nando’s and think it’s amazing.I’m happy to meet up with em for a little chat if they like.Twats.

  8. thelondonlawyer
    April 5, 2012 | 12:02 pm

    Bobby/Tony – I'm not quite sure what you were expecting from a regional blog about food. The review does what it ought (a) review food & atmosphere (b) give personal impression (d) give advice on whether to go. What were you expecting? A hilarious anecdote from every restaurant in Bristol?

    Emily – do you have to authorise all of the comments which don't go to the specific qualities of the restaurant (maybe a general "feedback" page?) Your comment threads are becoming a bit full of extraneous comment on the quality of your reviewing rather than the restaurant (which is what we all want). Keep up the good work.

    • EmilyKnight247
      April 5, 2012 | 12:28 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I'm all for freedom of speech – I don't want to deny anyone their say. That's what I love about the format of this site: the ability to get feedback from other people, which, most of the time, is very interesting to read.

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