Mamma Maria, Boston

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a wine tasting tour of the North End. My whole family ended the tour with a spectacular dinner at Mamma Maria, which is one of my parent’s favorite restaurants. This was my first visit and from the impeccable service, to the fabulous food, I can’t wait to go back. We were seated in a private dining room, since my mom had called earlier that week requesting a table near the window. They ended up seating us in a small room with just a four-person table–an awesome surprise.

The bread was fresh, and the pesto homemade:

We ordered the Antipasto Tower, which was a hefty $56, but oh-so-worth it. I tasted my first oysters ever, which were mind-blowing. The mozzarella is imported from a farm in Italy. The cheese was the creamiest, most delectable piece of mozzarella I’ve ever eaten.

Scallops cooked with blood orange were also a favorite part of the “antipasto tower.” Perfectly cooked, with a little crunch and citrus flavor.

My entrée was wild-mushroom ravioli:

My parents both ordered the Clam and Crab pasta:

The take-away message: wow.

If you are in the North End (and are willing to spend some dough on a meal), eat here. You will not regret it.

When a (Mark Bittman) Recipe Fails

I know it’s the holiday season when my family eats experimental appetizers as our dinner. With potentially over thirty guests coming for Christmas dinner, menu items must be tried out. One such attempt was Mark Bittman’s recipe for Sesasme Shrimp Toasts. I’m usually not a fan of fusion foods, such as this one which combines Italian bread with Asian flavors, but there’s no harm in testing the recipe out. 

The recipe starts off by saying to cut the baguette in half lengthwise, and to then put the shrimp mixture on top for baking. At the end, you slice the bread into toasts. One of the biggest problems with this recipe for me is that the image that goes along with the recipe on Bittman’s website shows toasts made of sliced baguettes, not lengthwise, but like bruschetta. I think this would be a better way to make the toasts, yet the instructions state otherwise.

My second problem with the recipe is that it’s not worthy of our Christmas dinner menu. Not that our Christmas is a particularly formal affair, but it just wasn’t good enough to eat. Maybe it was the expectation of eating some sort of garlic, cheesy, or buttery bread, since that’s what it looked like, and instead tasting Asian flavors. Or maybe that it was simply not satisfying in ways I don’t know how to describe.

A recipe should be coherent, as well as aligned with the images of the food, or else people (or maybe it’s just me) get misled. I think I will stick to a simpler tomato, garlic, basil bruschetta next time.