Food doesn’t always need to be ‘authentic’ to hit the spot. Our attachment to Mamma Mia in Mission Bay comes more from shared memory than what the sticklers of this world would tell you Carbonara and pizza should be like from an Italian Restaurant. This is the place we frequented when we were first dating and where I met Mrs Peckish’s family (the Pekings) for the first time. In fact, all those years ago, I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and as I walked past our waiter he gave me a knowing wink and said quietly “You’re in.” On this trip he was our waiter again and said long time no see, you guys must be busy. It’s that kind of place.
That said, we have a pretty standard order, Calamari, Carbonara, and a Special Pizza, small or medium depending on the appetite. I’ve tried to partake in the other pastas on the menu, but I’d rather have one of my own homemade jobs. Really, the reason why we come is the Carbonara.
We find plenty of charm in the calamari though. The batter has a delicate but assured touch, and the aioli pairs well. I’m always tempted to order it in the mains size rather than the entrée size.
Mamma Mia have a sign outside that says to beware, because their pizzas are habit forming. Be aware of the crust, as I imagine that will determine much of how you feel about their pizza. It’s thin along the base, becoming thick at the edges, so there’s a bit of soft doughy chew with a bit of crisp golden crunch. Generous topping is more the emphasis rather than really punchy defined flavours that you can easily separate. Subsequently the tomato base isn’t especially saucy. So if you like your pizza napoletana, or you like thin and crispy, this might not be your style, but if you prefer something in the middle with lots of topping, you’ll be right at home.
Similarly, the Carbonara isn’t going to please any purists, but for anyone with impure food thoughts, there’s still something to enjoy here. The six families of ham, mushroom, garlic, oregano, egg and parmagiano have sat down to hammer out a powerful alliance with the pasta for your taste buds. At $26 (or $18 takeaway), it’s certainly protection racket pricing, but it’s a proposition we find difficult to refuse.
This place is kid friendly, and kid popular, there were several groups of young kids who passed as we ate and nagged their parents for some Mamma Mia, even just a little takeaway. Which is probably a good way to try this place out. Pay a little less, and take the food across the road to the park and eat by the sea and watch the crowds pass by.