The holiday season will be here before you know it.
In the coming weeks we will be reporting on places in and around Manhattan for you to consider with celebrating the season —- or any occasion. First up is Restaurant MAMO in SoHo. It’s old world meets new world dining: It’s also old school charm with a modern day sensibility and as authentic as the original outpost of MAMO Le Michelangelo, a 23-year-old staple located on the French Riviera.
In a sea of grab-n-go joints, food trucks, corporate restaurants and pop-up grub spots, this is exactly what NYC needs during the season to celebrate food, family and gatherings. The Italians take dining very seriously and many young restaurant entrepreneurs can learn from the established — the innovators and successful. With the holiday party and homecoming season just a few weeks away, we will be doing a series on obscure bistros and small business eateries to hold your office event, family gathering or just a night out amongst friends.
Here is what I discovered at MAMO.
I climbed over the risky cobblestone streets, passing design showrooms and gallery windows displaying pricey artwork until I found my destination on West Broadway, directly below Grand Street. My friend and foodie companion this evening was James. We normally like to dine at the bar and that was our original plan, however after sitting too low on the bar stool, with a high counter, the beautiful table settings and stark white, leather chairs called us to relocate into the dining room. The gracious hostess encouraged this as well. It was the best advice and decision.
While being moved, the first things to catch my eye were the extra-large vintage movie posters adorning the walls (La Dolce Vita and more of Fellini’s work) and these attractive double globe light fixtures that illuminate the room in soft white. James even commented on the attractive back lighting behind the plush, red tobacco, leather banquette. Everything about the space is inviting, European homey (my term) and relaxing.
The ground floor area is a little more casual like a bistro whereas the second floor, in my opinion, is a touch more formal but completely void of being stuffy or pretentious. Rustic and bare, grey brick walls climb up the staircase to aged wood ceiling beams. Like I said, it’s old world charming mixed with today’s comfort. It’s a great space for a party or bacchanalia.
Before we get to the cuisine, your celebration should begin with one of their signature cocktails. The menu offers libations such as the Al Pachilli made with passion fruit puree, pineapple juice, spicy grenadine and Absolut Elix. The New York Press is made with muddled lemon, tin cup whiskey, ginger beer and Psychaud’s bitters. We chose to keep it completely Italian with their MAMO Negroni: Aperol, Antica Formula sweet vermouth and because I cannot handle gin, I requested Grey Goose Vodka. It was made perfectly without anyone scoffing at my special request. Refreshing!
The antipasti run the gamut from Eggplant alla Parmigiana to Octopus Salad with cannelloni beans, olives, lemon and pickled cherry peppers. James and I selected the Carpaccio: Sliced raw beef tenderloin, marinated vegetables, peaches and pecorino. This dish was beautifully presented and the portion was perfect to share — fresh and mouthwatering.
The chef also offers several variations of brick oven pizza that we saw traveling thru the dining room. However, we both agreed that you could get pizza almost anywhere these days. We looked over the pasta section and saw their Spaghetti with sea urchin and black caviar. They also have risotto, cacio pepe, lemon, olive oil and basil. James is all about the meat and talked me into sharing the Fussiloni with meatballs and tomato sauce. I’ll say that the pasta was cooked to perfection — al dente. The sauce was palatable however; I would be in a vat of trouble if I didn’t say that my mother’s meatballs were more enjoyable from a recipe that stems back decades. Next visit, I’d like to try the Spaghetti with Clams or the Ravioli with fresh truffle, specifically during truffle season (October thru December).
Our Secondi was a showstopper. MAMO offers Halibut baked in foil with truffle fondu, Baked Cod, or Roasted Salmon. They also have New York Strip Steak or Roasted Chicken Breast. Why they offer a MAMO Burger is beyond me but my research discovered that it’s popular amongst locals for lunch. James and I selected one of my all-time favorite dishes. The Milanese Veal Chop with green salad and diced tomatoes. I am glad the we only ordered one to share, the portion is so generous that neither of us could finish it. The presentation alone deserved applause. The chop was battered and fried to a golden bronze work of art. Andrea graciously served us and professionally split the meal into two equal portions. Our table went silent until James looked up from his plate and said, “P.K., this is amazing and so tender, it’s melting in my mouth.” I could not agree more with him.
Here is the MAMO calling card. In the photo you will see Angelo “MAMO” Mammoliti. He is the young gentleman sitting on the ground. This picture was taken back in the ‘50s in Calabria, Italy. He had to move to the South of France in order to find a better life for himself and his family. With MAMO in Manhattan, we are very lucky to experience his dream. And this is why I believe young entrepreneurs should take heed.
Start planning your party while I press the streets of the city.
323 West Broadway
Between Grand & Canal
New York, NY 10013
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