I’ve been to Mama’s now 3 times, and each time I go it gets better. It’s right around the corner from my doctor in Charlotte (the wonderful Bruce Cohen of OrthoCarolina Ankle and Foot Institute) so we went for lunch after one appointment. After this, we knew we had to go back for dinner. So, the foodie crew loaded up and went! Twice!
Actually, for a nice dinner out, Mama Ricotta’s is very reasonable. They offer family sized entrees to share and I’ve never left there when we all weren’t full as a tick. Also, the restaurant is lively and nearly always crowded. You would probably do well to get reservations on a Friday and Saturday night. We’ve always been well taken care of by our servers, too.
SALADS and SIDES
The Caesar Salad is a classic Caesar with cheese, croutons and dressing. The dressing is tangy and delicious, and the romaine was crisp and fresh. My only complaint was that the darn thing was perhaps too cheesy. Is that even a problem? But it really was overloaded, I’d prefer a bit less next time.
My dinner companion ordered a side of roasted vegetables. They were grilled over the wood fire, very simply prepared, and very fresh.
The pizza is not thin and crispy, and not deep dish. It is made in a wood burning oven so it gets lightly charred on the bottom and remains chewy on the inside of the crust. The toppings that you choose (we’ve tried Italian sausage, chicken sausage and prosciutto) take on that smokiness from the oven, as well, for a rustic flavor. My only complain is with the house-made chicken sausage. Our order had far too much anise in the sausage, making it taste very licorice like. I’d not get that topping again.
The Penne alla Vodka is perfect by itself, and a great favorite of the restaurant. You honestly cannot taste the alcohol, either. It’s a very creamy tomato sauce which is perfect with the penne pasta. I’ve had it with both shrimp and chicken and both are delicious additions. The shrimp is cooked perfectly, not at all rubbery. The chicken is tender and flavorful. This is one of my favorite dishes.
Spaghetti and Meatballs is a staple at most Italian restaurants, and these meatballs were no exception. They were tender and savory, clearly simmering in the warm tomato sauce for a long time. The pasta was also perfectly cooked, with the tomato sauce having just enough acidity to counter the pasta.
The Amma’s Cheese Ravioli is filled with creamy ricotta, mozzarella, romano and Parmesan cheeses and topped with a savory marinara soft. The pillows of ravioli is soft and moist and very light, in spite of the many cheeses. It is a very basic dish, but a solid one.
Veal Parmesan was a slight disappointment to my husband. I’m not sure what he was expecting, but he thought it could have been better seasoned. He said he would not get that the next time he visited.
Maybe my favorite dish here, the Papparadelle with Oxtail & Kobe beef ragu is like your Italian grandmother’s version of pot roast. It is hearty, with a beef stock based sauce, filled with slow cooked, tender beef and small cubed carrots. The papparadelle is handmade, too! It is comforting and rustic and reminds me of Autumn. I’ve ordered this twice now.
The lasagna is another popular favorite. Mama Ricotta’s version is full of meat and cheese and smothered with marinara sauce and more mozzarella cheese. It is creamy and very filling!
Crab and Shrimp Risotto has also been one of my favorites. A large mound of creamy risotto topped with lump crabmeat, shrimp and mussels and with just a hint of lemon for the bite of acid. It was comforting and luxurious at the same time. On my next trip, I will be ordering this dish.
The desserts are not the highlight of this restaurant, admittedly. We’ve tried quite a few and while we were happy enough, they weren’t exceptional enough to revisit the next few visits.
The Ciabatta Bread Pudding is topped with a generous scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, that melts over your warm pudding to create a richly sweet sauce that mingles with the caramel goodness leaking out of your pudding. It was yummy, and a good version of the dessert.
Tiramisu is a typical Italian dessert made with ladyfingers soaked in coffee and mascarpone cheese sweetened with sugar and layered with a sprinkling of cocoa on top. Though coffee is not my favorite flavoring, this version was smooth and delicious…also very pretty!
That night there was a special dessert on the menu. It was a chocolate cupcake, filled with a creamy white center, supposedly in the style of a Hostess Cupcake. It was delicious and full of robust chocolate flavor.
The last dessert we enjoyed was the special cheesecake. It is layered with cake. My friend pronounced it delicious!