Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published April 28th 2013
Just like Mama used to make
If you want a taste of true Italian food and hospitality, then Mama Rosa is a relaxing, family friendly environment, with a gorgeous menu that suits anytime of the day. You'll find Mama Rosa at Merton Abbey Mills, and it is somewhere my mum and I use as a place of respite on our way back from grocery shopping. If the kettle just seems too far away to wait, our legs can't make the last stretch to the settee, or it is raining, and we need a place to shelter with our heavy bags, Mama Rosa is our port of call.
We always get seated at the table next to the radiator, which on a wet and windy day, is always much appreciated. I don't know what it is like in the evening, but in the afternoon it is usually pretty empty, and most of the time were are the only ones there. On this, visit, however, it was the exception. To our right, there was a family with young kids, and to our left, a children's birthday party.
Apart from a few tacky paper light shades, the rest of the restaurant has very nice furnishings, with a few potted palm trees, shelves displaying pastas & sauces, and elegantly carved furniture (although the low tables are slightly annoying).
Since last we went, the staff has changed gender. We used to be greeted by a bombastic Italian manager that reminded me of the chef in Lady & The Tramp, and served by a lanky young waiter, like Linguine from Ratatouille. Now, however, we were served by an equally as nice pair of women, but who were just a little less animated.
You can either order from the main menu or take up their special £9.95 two-course lunch offer, which is served until 5pm. I wasn't sure how big a main course would be, and with a starter as well, I thought it sounded a bit too much for lunch, so I chose a gamberoni cocktail from their antipasti selection for £4.95. Despite having decided that I did not want two savoury courses, just before the waitress left, she asked if I wanted garlic bread. I had seen it on the menu, and wasn't interested, but she caught be off guard, and in a moment of weakness, I said yes.
At £2.50, I was expecting two slices, but I was given good value for money when three turned up on my plate. With a generous sprinkle of herbs, including rosemary & thyme, it made for some of the best garlic bread I've tasted.
My prawn cocktail was presented beautifully, but I was daunted by the amount of butter on my bread. Before I started, I had to smear a lot of it off, and ended up with a knob big enough to spread at least two more slices of bread. The rose marie dressing was spiced with paprika, which gave a warming kick to a cold dish, and worked very well.
Deep Fried White Bait
While I dug into that, Mum went for the two-course lunch, starting with deep fried white bait with garlic mayonnaise. I would have thought that because of the size of the fish, their taste would be lost in the batter, but Mum said that they had excellent favour.
Allaying my fears, it turns out that the main courses for lunch are in fact much smaller than that on the main menu, meaning that you can enjoy to meals without feeling full. Mum was just in the mood for cannelloni, and she was not disappointed. After a little temper tantrum from the parmesan grater, she had a thoroughly enjoyable meal.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
All the puddings are £4.25, which I think seems a bit more expensive compared to the rest of the menu. I'm pretty sure the price has gone up, as I remember them only being £3.95 before. I ordered a sticky toffee pudding, and managed to say no when the manager asked if I wanted ice cream at the last minute. I'm glad I did too, because I was given a huge helping, and Mum had to help me out. We both agreed that the sponge was extremely light. We told the manager that, and she hinted not so subtly that it would have been even nicer with ice cream.
I have only ever seen to members of staff working the floor while I was there, so service is a bit slow (made more so by the party), but their genial disposition and willingness to please makes up for it, and gives your stomach a chance to rest between courses.