Mountain Mama

Dining_MamaMiasMama Mia’s large portions and colorful sauces give Feltonians a taste of Italy
In the heart of Felton, Mama Mia’s has been serving hearty Italian fare for 14 years. The restaurant has been so successful that she now has three younger sisters in Santa Clara County.

Eighteen pasta dishes include spaghetti with homemade meat sauce or marinara ($13.99) and homemade cannelloni and manicotti crêpes ($14.99). For entrées, veal or chicken parmigiana ($17.99) are breaded and baked, as is the rolled chicken breast saltimbocca. The scaloppine is made with eggplant ($13.99) and Osso Buco ($19.99) is served with lamb demi-glaze over risotto. They proclaim their pizzas to be the best in town. On our recent visit, bowls piled high with seafood cioppino were the nightly special ($24.95).

At Mama Mia’s, wagon wheel windows on the building’s facade remind visitors of its burger pit past. But the interior has been beautifully disguised. Hand-painted grape vines climb along a shoulder-height wall, while colorful murals elicit images of Italian buildings. Horizontal lattice supports pendant plastic grapes over one of the rows of beautifully upholstered booths. Semicircular archways form windows into an adjacent dining area.

All dinners include minestrone, the soup of the day, house salad or Caesar salad, and breadsticks. The latter are long, thick strips of herbed pizza-like dough served with mildly flavored, creamy peach-colored cheese spread.

I found the service here to be extremely professional, prompt and attentive. The vegetarian Sautéed Mushrooms Appetizer ($4.99) expeditiously arrived. A large bowl was filled with earthy quartered mushrooms with enough rich, creamy brown Marsala sauce to have covered two plates of pasta. We, instead, scooped it onto the bread. Fresh sliced scallions added snap and texture, and a peppery glass of Chianti Classico ($6.75) was a wonderful partner.

Soup and salad were delivered soon after the appetizer. Numerous vegetables in the minestrone, including cabbage and carrots, were packed into a cup of light broth. The Caesar salad of crisp, chilled romaine with classic creamy dressing was topped with shredded Parmesan and airy, crunchy croutons of light and dark bread.

Tortellini alla Vodka ($15.99) is bathed little pasta hats in a light marinara cream sauce, with bits of bell pepper that did not overpower its ripe flavor. I was initially overcome by the generous amount of salty pancetta bacon in the sauce, but came to equilibrium with its saline savoriness after a few bites.

A bright red sauce covered Prawns Diablo con Pappardelle ($17.99). The kitchen used a light hand with Cajun seasoning on the firm, plump prawns, making the dish suitable for mild spice lovers. The sauce was loaded with red bell peppers, and the attractive pappardelle pasta was like long strings of curly-edged lasagna noodles, but only three quarters of an inch in width.

Neither of us could finish the huge portions on our plates, so our server cordially stored the saucy pastas in leak-proof containers for the drive over serpentine mountain roads.

Mama Mia’s Ristorante Italiano, 6231 Graham Hill Rd., Felton, 335-4414. Beer and wine. Serving dinner nightly 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visit mamamias.com

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