Other than the reference to the Abba song, this review’s title actually had some meaning. Mamamia Trattoria was previously opened in the Super Brands Mall in Lu Jia Zui district. I guess some problems were encountered and they shifted to a more secluded stretch on Huai Hai Lu.
Owned by chef Enzo Carbone of Capo Rockbund’s fame, Mamamia Trattoria is really a god-send to us folks in the Former French Concession (FFC) area, because what Enzo had done is moved and repackaged the food from Capo on the bund to the city center and miraculously reduced the prices such that the food is very affordable, while still retaining the quality of Capo. Find out about my previous experiences at Capo at my review of them during restaurant week, and a tasting of their tomahawk steak.
Not only did he moved the food over, even the same management from Capo is currently managing Mamamia Trattoria on different shifts. What that means is that you are getting Bund quality food and service conveniently in the FFC, at very, very humble prices. Thank you so much.
The restaurant is stylishly renovated with stone brick walls and wooden floors, giving a modern yet atmospheric rustic feel. The setting is more laid-back than Capos; Casual enough for a family gathering, but still classy enough to bring guests. In the center of the dining area is a glass roof top, which during the day allows daylight to beautifully fill up the entire restaurant. Similar to Capo’s style, the kitchen is segregated with glass walls, allowing diners to inspect the clean kitchen and watch the magic happen within.
One thing worth noting is that unlike Capo on Rockbund which housed 2 wood-fired ovens, only 1 gas powered oven is used in Mamamia Trattoria. 9/10
This particular review was based on 3 different visits, one of which was a private invitation. Although I have heard some stories about reservations getting missed on their opening night, my experience with the service had been consistently good. The waiters were quick to clear any dirty plates that had been on the table for some time, and clean cutlery were replaced regularly between courses. The service staff were also able to describe the dishes and converse in english comfortably. Food was served in a timely manner, with very little downtime where we had nothing to munch on. Service is at it’s top when Enzo and the managers from Capo are on duty. You are pretty much getting Bund service on Huai Hai Lu, there’s nothing more to say about that. 9/10
Cold cuts platter (3 for ¥98, 5 for ¥148)
This was on my first visit and we were treated to an array of imported classic italian cold cuts: Salami Milano, Salami Napoli, Mortadella, Parma Ham, and one other thing I forgot. I’m not a big connoisseur of Italian cold cuts other than to tell if they taste fresh and nice or not. That said, everything on the platter tasted freshly sliced and not too salty. I particularly enjoyed the mortadella as it felt moist and meaty in the mouth and also the parma ham, maybe because these 2 meats are the ones I often had as a child, from the Delis in Singapore. The accompanying olives were pre-pitted and added a nice boost to the meats. Both salamis had a bright tangy flavour with one being slightly spicier than the other. My least favourite was the white coloured cut but i forgot what it was. 8/10
Gnocco Fritto (¥48)
I was specially urged to try this — essentially a deep fried version of gnocchi. It was the first time I had come across a deep fried version of gnocchi. The filling inside is ricotta and abit of salami, with a generous sprinkling of parmasan cheese, accompanied with a pesto sauce. The snack was crispy on the outside and savoury on the inside. Overall, it was quite a heavy snack. I understand that the pesto sauce would be meant to offset the richness, but pesto has a very high oil content itself. Perhaps I might have enjoyed this more with a spicy tomato based sauce with maybe an even thinner, lighter dough crust. 7/10
Fritto di Calamari (¥58)
Deep fried squid rings. Light crunchy batter, with fresh juicy squid from Da Lian. This is a very common dish, not much more explanation is needed, except that the version at Mamamia is not greasy, and the batter stuck on to the calamari very well between bites, as opposed to some places where after the first bite, you are either left with an empty batter or a naked squid ring. A generous jar of aioli was provided to dip the fritters in. 8.5/10
On the second visit, I went for the deep fried artichokes. Being from South East Asia, I don’t have much experience with tasting artichokes, hence I was curious. These turned out really nice. Delicate crunch on the outside, with the artichokes within being soft and velvety. Tasted a little bit like eggplant. The parmesan added richness and helped season the fritters without additional salt. 8/10
Polpo Grigliato su Patate Al Timo (¥68)
Grilled ocotpus on mashed potatoes with a mediterranean style dressing. Octopus caught my eye, I had to try. This tasted pleasant, octopus was tender and not rubbery. The addition of Italian caper berries gave a bright boost to flavours. However, the dish was a little bit oily as you can see it sitting on a pool of olive oil, a little more charring on the octopus would give a more fragrant flavour, but risk being overdone. 7.5/10
Vongole alla Marina di Amalfi (¥88)
A generous portion of clams from Da Lian, cooked in a spicy garlicky broth.
I was quite impressed with the portion of this, because it easily fed 3 persons on my first visit, and was easily shared amongst 5 persons on my 2nd visit. On both visits, only a couple of empty shells were seen. Most if not all of the clam shells still had their meat intact. The clams were fresh and flavourful, with very minimal sand. (It is nearly impossible to guarantee a pot of clams with no sand in them) The broth was very savoury but slightly spicy. I particularly enjoyed mopping up the broth with some of the accompanying toast. Combining taste, quantity, quality and value, I give this a hearty 9/10. It would be great if we could have more types of broth in future!
Spaghetti con aglio olio peperoncino e frutti di mare (¥58)
The name basically means, spicy seafood spaghetti tossed in garlic olive oil. This is the dish that blew me away. Firstly, there are 2 different pages of pasta items on the menu. One is for freshly in-house made pasta, and the other is dried pasta. This belonged to the dried pasta section.
I was amazed to find such a huge plate of pasta with so much seafood in it for only ¥58. I had to even ask if this was only served to me, and if regular customers would also get this amount? The answer was yes, and yes, the pricing will remain the same even after soft opening.
One large prawn, tens of smaller shrimp, squid rings and chunks of fish, weaved within a mound of perfectly al dente spaghetti. The pasta was particularly spicy on my second visit and i made it known to Enzo on that day; Not a problem if you can take or like spicy. This feeds 2 persons easily, can shares very well amongst 3-4 persons. Mind you, I am not saying this is the best seafood pasta in the world or in Shanghai for that matter. However, for ¥58 rmb, at this level of restaurant, for this amount of fresh seafood, it is quite unbeatable. I yearn every other day to return and just order this pasta for myself. 9/10
Straccetti Mamamia! Bolognese (¥68)
This pasta belonged to the freshly made in-house pasta menu. Straccetti is a traditional type of pasta that resembles little pieces of cloth. Actually, chinese have a similar type of noodle as well.
The sauce that accompanies this is Mamamia’s signature bolognese sauce. The fresh pasta was slightly chewy, which gave it the al-dente-police the nod of approval. The sauce carried a nice balance between the richness of the beef and acidity of the tomato, and coated every piece of pasta uniformly. This had me wanting for more, but alas, we had to share this amongst 5. Compared to the previous seafood pasta, the portion of this was lesser. The shape of the pasta prevents one from taking big mouthfuls, but instead small bites. I’m curious on how this sauce would taste like on spaghetti, where one can eat a big mouthful, but… spaghetti bolognese… too boring for a restaurant like Mamamia. I still heartily recommend this dish and give it a 8.5/10
Risotto Piccante con Formaggio di Capra e Peperoni (¥78)
Spicy Risotto with goat’s cheese, roasted red bell peppers. This was the only disappointment for me. Quite bland tasting with no particular flavour that stood out from the risotto other than the goat cheese. That said, the rice was al dente and properly cooked. A properly cooked risotto is to be eaten with a fork, not spoon. 6/10
Bistecca di Manzo (¥228)
The most expensive item on the menu. Fortunately, also the most delicious.
A 200g piece of Australian M3 strip loin served Tagliata style with arugula, parmesan flakes and aged balsamic vinegar. This is almost the same as the steaks at Capo, except at Capo they are grilled in a wood-fired oven. I requested for mine to be done medium, and it came out perfectly that way.
I’m not sure why they labelled the marbling score of the beef as M3+ instead of an exact number, but M3 and above means that you are getting an average fatty piece of beef, with M0 being the lowest marbling score, and M9 the fattiest. But really, all that matters is not in the labelling, but in the taste.
The tender medium done beef was so delicately sweet and tender. Not melt in the mouth, but juicy and flavourful with a nice charred flavour on the outside. Paired with the arugula, parmesan and balsamic vinegar, each mouthful was an explosion of sensations. It is truly a very artisanal steak, that is very different from the American style of cooking steak. I can’t say if one type of cooking is better than the other, but I have to say, eating steak this way is far more interesting with the different textures, salty and sweet flavours coming together. This is a dish I dream of eating every single day. 9.5/10
Merluzzo al Cartoccio (¥138)
Codfish fillet baked with olives, capers, potatoes and mint.
Serving size of this is perhaps a little petite. What it lacked in quantity, it compensated in quality. Rich, fresh and fatty cod meat that melted in the mouth. The combination of condiments that the fish was baked together with imparted subtle but complementary flavours to the fish. The potatoes at the bottom were particularly tasty, after having soaked up all the flavours of the package. If only the fish was slightly bigger… 8/10
Pizza Diavola (¥88)
I had this on the first visit. Pizza crust is light, airy and charred beautifully. This is the type of pizza where you eat up all the dough as well as the toppings, as opposed to the usual pizzas where I skip the dough at the side and just eat the toppings. The Diavola is topped with salami di napoli, basil, mozzarella and parmesan. Careful though, what they forgot to mention on the menu is that the Diavola is also a spicy pizza. Cheese is generously topped all over the pizza, I thought the amount of salami could be a little bit more. The size feeds 3 persons alone, and good to share amongst 4-5. 8/10
The desserts at Mamamia Trattoria come in small bite-sized platters. On our first visit, we had the chocolate ice cream, creme brulee, panna cotta and tiramisu.
The chocolate ice cream was quite normal.
The creme brûlée delicious and expertly crafted, with a strawberry compote on top of the thin crispy crust.
The Panna cotta was also tasty, with also a strawberry compote and mint leaf. Texture was spot on.
The tiramisu was a little off, because of the shallow serving dish. It was a little too small to have enough layers to be called a tiramisu. Too much chocolate powder that day, which made everyone cough while inhaling some of it. All in all, 7.5/10
I would like to thank chef Enzo Carbone for making Mamamia Trattoria happen in the FFC. This is currently my go to spot whenever I’m craving a good pasta, steak or pizza because they are just 5 minutes away from my own restaurant. I find it a wonder at how they are able to offer this level of food at these prices, at this location. It is a big feat, normal customers may not appreciate this fact, but it is a big deal once you’ve dabbled in the restaurant business, trying to justify rent vs food costs vs prices.
Don’t take my word for it, because as usual, what I say is simply my own opinion based on my very limited experience in tasting. Try it for yourself and tell me how you liked it in the comments!
PS: As if things aren’t crazy enough, as of the date of this article, on every Tuesday, Mamamia Trattoria is offering unlimited pizzas and beers from 7pm for only ¥98, and freeflow of wine for ¥128.
That’s a mad deal for people who love to drink and eat pizza.
PPS: I am not affiliated with Capo or Mamamia in any way, nor do I work for them. They do not pay me to write these reviews, nor do any other restaurant I write about on this blog. My fondness for their restaurants is simply due to the quality of food they continue to dish out at very competitive prices. Hell, I even bumped into Shanghaigirleats on my second visit, who was sitting at the table beside.