I finally got over to East Grand Forks and tried out some dishes at Mamma Maria’s, a local joint that has been growing a fan base as one of two local Italian places in the area. Giuseppe’s on DeMers in downtown Grand Forks is the other.
I was surprised at the interior of the restaurant, with nice low lighting and a contemporary feel. I was surprised because Mamma’s is in a mall and the prospect for a good Italian restaurant in a mall is not promising.
Luckily, the food was largely tasty.
Wanting to get a pretty good representation of the menu, I and two friends ordered a few dishes and an appetizer. We had the veal cannelloni ($11.99), mamma’s trio ($15.99), fettuccini in a vodka cream sauce ($9.99) and the mamma’s sampler appetizer ($13.99).
The appetizer was out fast and it was hot, as was every other dish served to us. When I say hot, I mean it, cause these were piping hot. Included in the appetizer were bruschetta, mozzarella wraps, fried ravioli, chicken fingers and calamari. It was a big plate full of fried food, but we wanted to try a few different appetizers.
The appetizers were served with a barbecue balsamic vinegar that I found pretty unappealing. It was an incredibly runny sauce that was heavy on the vinegar. The bruschetta was topped with the same sauce over the tomatoes and unfortunately overpowered it and made the bread soggy. Trying the other appetizers, I would really only recommend the calamari. Not the best I’ve ever had, but not bad.
I had the mamma’s trio for an entree, which was another sampler that had a portion of chicken Parmesan, lasagna and fettuccine alfredo. Each was fine, but the alfredo was under-seasoned and the chicken in the chicken Parmesan was a tiny cut.
Served with our meal was a basket of garlic knots that tasted fine, but they were cold both times we had them. They would be infinitely better if served hot, but the flavor was still there.
My dining mates both enjoyed their dishes, they said. So while this may seem like a mixed review, I’ve got to say I really like Mamma Maria’s. Because Mamma’s is a local place, I’d much rather support it than a national chain. I have yet to step foot in the Olive Garden since it opened, so I really can’t compare the food. But I would bet that the food at Mamma’s is as good or better. And if it’s not, you can feel good about supporting a local business.
The menu at Mamma Maria’s has pretty much any classic Italian dish you can think of, with quite a selection of seafood, pasta, pizza and sandwiches. Five different burgers are also there if you’re not feeling like Italian.
While I found a few things that could be better, I’ll be heading back to Mamma Maria’s in East Grand Forks soon to explore more of their menu.