Monday, March 12, 2012

Mamma Maria, North End, Boston

When one thinks of the North End, one may automatically think of tourists, double parked streets and chaos. Unfortunately this thought isn't entirely inaccurate, especially in regard to Hanover Street, and especially in the summer months. However, a quick turn off of Hanover and all the hustle and bustle and you can find yourself enjoying the calm serenity of North Square. There, in a renovated brownstone, sits Mamma Maria, a locally sourced Italian restaurant with a daily changing menu and a flair for detail.

Entering the structure feels like entering a home, the original layout preserved, with every crevice of the elegant manor used for premium dining space. We were led upstairs to a beautiful dining room with commanding views of downtown Boston. Gracious staff welcomed us, set us up with water and then disappeared as we set through the menu.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise, I had perused the menu for Mamma Maria at least a dozen times prior to the evening, and though knowing that what I was viewing on line was merely a sample as changes and additions are brought in each day, I had settled on their Rabbit Pasta. As I looked through the actual menu that evening I was thrilled to see the dish was still available. I went through a quick debate between that and a Suckling Pig dish, but, with assistance from our server, stuck with my gut and chose the rabbit.

I started with an arugula salad, paired with a creamy vinaigrette, crisp bacon and mandarine orange sections. the pairing of these ingredients was really a delight. The peppery arugula was offset by the creamy dressing, rounding out the flavors so that neither over came the other. I thought that the pairing of the orange with the bacon though was a stroke of genius. I always feel so healthy eating oranges, their plump juiciness, with their natural sweetness, they just always provide such refreshment. A bite of the orange mixed with the ever appealing yet indulgent crisp bacon was perfection. I loved the two together.

Now, I know what you're thinking, how could I eat rabbit. I understand the disgust- to be frank I cannot think about what I'm eating when I eat rabbit lest I will break down in tears. I made a pledge to myself a couples years ago that I would learn to love every food possible (aside from hard boiled eggs in any capacity (blech)) and so I have been trying all sorts of foods I never would have tried previously. Rabbit was on that list. I can say this much, if you can get past the image of Peter Cottontail, this protein is delicious.

Mamma Maria created a perfect dish for it as well. Wide noodles matched with the gamey meat, coated in a light tomato sauce- every flavor worked together. The carb-tastic noodles were the perfect back drop to the simple sauce, which played down to the tender and well cooked meat. It was clear that the rabbit was the star of this show, and its tender, full flavored qualities ensured that this decision was not in vain. It was delicious.
Mamma Maria truly impressed me. A spot that I have passed a hundred times provides a beautiful, elegant space to enjoy a meal, and a quiet conversation, or a family gathering. The service is spot on, welcoming, joking when needed, and extremely knowledgeable. Their daily changing menu, with references to the farms that they are able to pull ingredients, screams fresh preparations, and a true dedication to their craft. Mamma Maria is on my short list of fantastic North End restaurants....scratch that -Mama Maria quickly moved to the the short list of favorite Boston restaurants.


Delicious Dishings said...

I recently went there for the first time and tried the rabbit as well. It was my first time trying rabbit, and I thought it was great! I have since learned that rabbit is very sustainable and very lean... so that makes me feel better about eating it.

In and Around Town said...

Mamma Maria is one of my favorite destinations in not only the North End but Boston generally, there is just something about the atmosphere with amazing food to boot. I also had a rabbit dish when I was there - delicious (even if I was reminded of the Easter Bunny!) I like what Megan pointed out above ;)

Kristen said...

love Mamma M and love that dish! so glad you had a nice time.

Jen said...

I've never had rabbit but I've been to Mama Maria and really enjoyed it.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Mama Maria is one of new favorite Italian restaurants, thanks to Daisy's recommendation. Glad you enjoyed!

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...