We finally made it out to Mama Mia Italiana’s in the Village of Sterling Ridge. We hadn’t heard much about the Italian Restaurant prior to our visit, other than the order-at-the-counter set up was a little odd for what we thought was a full service restaurant. We arrived early in the dinner service, only one other table was occupied. Things picked up quickly, though, as roughly 20 or more patrons filed into the casual diner while we ate.
The problem with order-at-the-counter setups is that awkward feeling you get when you’re taking too long to decide what you’d like to order. And frankly, Mama Mia’s menu can cause a lot of awkwardness. The menu at Mama Mia’s clocks in at 13 appetizers, nine salads and 55 entrees, not including the specialty pizzas, build-your-own pizzas, kids’ meals and lunch menu. And you can follow that up with the wine list, if you’re so inclined. Maybe it was the sheer number of choices, or maybe it was more that we wanted to compare and contrast Mama Mia’s to other Italian Restaurants in The Woodlands – ultimately, we ended up ordering some familiar dishes to sample for our review.
I had a Stromboli ($7.99) – which based on the appearance when it reached the table, my initial reaction was this was way too much food for just me. Upon further inspection turned out to be a folded pizza type crust filled with sausage, pepperoni, fresh mushrooms and mozzarella cheese (though I had her hold the mushrooms). Once I’d cut into it, I was a little disappointed at how hollow and, well – empty, the inside was. I was expecting something that looked more like these, but you can see for yourself how different Mama Mia’s stromboli is from the usual.
The Italian sausage had a good, mildly-spicy flavor, but there was too little cheese and the pepperoni left something to be desired. In the end, I had peeled away a good portion of the bread and basically ended up with the equivalent of one slice of pizza. The marinara provided for dipping had a very odd, almost tangy flavor to it. There was definitely garlic, but I would venture to say there was far too much basil for the amount of oregano and garlic in the red sauce, reportedly the only thing made in advance at Mama Mia.
Admittedly, I can be a creature of habit. I ordered the Homemade Lasagna ($9.95), which came with a Caesar salad and “Garlic Knot Bread.” Having just eaten at Crust Pizza earlier this week, we may have set ourselves up for disappointment when it came to the Garlic Knots – turns out they’re completely different at Mama Mia’s. These are more like white bread buns / home made dinner rolls than twisted knots of sourdough, and they were presented in a pool of melted garlic butter. Unfortunately, the garlic butter sauce wasn’t able to penetrate the crust of the buns, so one has to keep dipping the bread into the sauce should you so desire to get the full flavor. It tastes wonderful, but we all know that all that butter won’t win us brownie points at the cardiologist’s office. The Caesar salad, though presented beautifully, was surprisingly bland in flavor. The lettuce was limp and thoroughly drenched in dressing, as though it may have sat for some period of time in the dressing prior to being served. Additionally, the dressing lacked the garlicky, anchovy-esque sharpness we’re used to in a typical Caesar salad. Sadly the dressing reminded me more of a mayonnaise-based, thin dressing than anything Roman-esq or otherwise.
The lasagna looked nice when presented, two layers of noodles and a fair amount of ground beef, white cheese and chunky, red tomato (marinara) sauce. So much for the honeymoon – The ground meat was lightly seasoned but the marinara sauce was a bit overpowering with the taste of basil and tomato.
According to a recent article in The Woodlands Villager, owner Christina Kumbarcja was quoted as saying that the food is delivered to the tables by the Chef. The service was prompt and the dinner plates served hot by the primarily hispanic staff, wouldn’t you expect the food at an Italian Restaurant to be prepared by an Italian?
Overall, we were disappointed with our meal at Mama Mia’s. The portions, though they appear large, are actually a bit lacking; but for the price-point, are relatively adequate. We really wanted to like the food more – we love to support our area’s small and independent businesses – so it’s possible we’ll be back to try something different on the menu. After all, there are plenty of options and we only touched on a few of them. We happily offer up a copy of the menu at Mama Mia for your perusal.
Mama Mia Italiana’s – 30420 FM 2978, Magnolia 77354 – 281 419-7662