New & Noted: Mammamia

What: Family-friendly Italian dining from chef and restaurateur, Enzo Carbone
Where: 2/F, 1333 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Changshu Lu. Tel: 5081 0966
Why: For authentic and cheap Italian food in a sociable and welcoming environment
Ok, we are just going to go ahead and say it, Mammamia is our favourite new opening of the year so far. This bustling restaurant hasn't let us down yet on quality and value for money. Chef Enzo keeps the prices low by ordering and importing ingredients, directly from Italy, in bulk for his restaurant empire, which includes Capo and the Mammamia branches in Wuxi and Suzhou.
The large restaurant is modern and inviting, with a large conservatory, offering bright and spacious dining, and a small outdoor terrace, mainly for smokers. Expertly trained staff, wait on customers and regular restaurant-goers are made to feel like members of the extended family in this wholesome Italian eatery. Dishes are made to be shared in this establishment, which follows through with the familyfriendly theme.
We have enjoyed most dishes on the menu, but would highly recommend that you start off with Caprese salad (RMB 88), with creamy fresh mozzarella and sliced organic beefsteak tomatoes, served alongside basil and rocket salad, drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. We also enjoy fritto di calamari (RMB 58), which uses local Dalian squid to keep the price low, but does not compromise on quality. We are also always surprised at the quality and presentation of carpaccio di manzo (RMB 78), an Australian beef Carpaccio with shaved Parmesan, rocket and micro-herbs.
Fresh, handmade pastas are high up on the list of things to try. Scialatielli Vongole (RMB 68) uses thick scialatelli pasta tossed with a sauté of clams, courgette and cherry tomatoes. Straccetti Mammamia! Bolognese (RMB 68) puts a unique, for Shanghai, twist on pork and beef Bolognese ragu as the straccetti (little rags) comes in rough shaped triangles and perfectly soak up the rich sauce with their large, cushiony surface area. Tagliatelle con prosciutto cotto e panna (RMB 68) is another hearty, honest dish with a thick Parmesan cheese and cream sauce with the salty flavour of the cured meat cutting through the dairy. All homemade, fresh pastas are served al dente, leaving a wonderfully firm texture to every bite.
From the meat section, salsiccia grigliata broccoli e patate arrostita (RMB 98), grilled pork and fennel sausage served with broccoli, roasted baby potatoes and homemade BBQ sauce, is a solid and filling choice. Finally, if you leave the restaurant without trying one of their pizzas, cooked in the wood fired oven and covered in buffalo mozzarella, it may leave you throwing your arms up in despair and crying “Mammamia”. Pizza prices start at RMB 68 for a Margherita and go up to RMB 108.
We cannot sum up our love for this menu without talking about the drinks. Aperol spritz (perfect for the summer), espresso martinis and Sorrento summer cocktails all cost RMB 28 – everyday of the week. Other cocktails are priced at just RMB 48. There is also a good selection of red and white wines.
The restaurant also has fantastic value lunch sets (RMB 68 to RMB 88) with a salad, pizza or pasta and a house pour. We imagine that this restaurant will stay a firm favourite of ours for seasons to come.