Friday, January 22, 2010

Momma Mia's on Magnolia

Mrs. Doohickie and I both arrived home from (different) business trips this evening at dinner time and decided to try the new Momma Mia's Italian Grill & Pizza at 1000 W. Magnolia in Fort Worth. Several months ago, one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Palermo's was at this site but they closed and Momma Mia's remodeled the place. Gone are model train tracks near the ceiling. Gone also is the bar, and the liquor license (replaced with a service bar) and the stage in the middle of the dining room. Also, the entrance was switched from the west dining room to the east dining room. Palermo's was a bit odd in some ways, but we liked it. The Lobster Ravioli was my wife's favorite.

Moving on, the place is now Momma Mia's. They've been open about 2 weeks now. They've had a location on Belknap Street for much longer than that, so they should know what they're doing. We were looking forward to trying them out. The newly remodeled restaurant is laid out a little better now, and has been redecorated as unambiguously Italian. My son pointed out the irony that one wall which had replaced an older wall had been painted to make it look old.... why not just keep the old wall?

Anyway, on to the meal: One thing I liked about Palermo's was having a nice glass of wine with dinner. That now requires advanced planning at Momma Mia's since they are now BYOB. I ordered the Veal Marsala; my wife ordered Salmon Piccata with Penne Pasta, and my son had the Shrimp Scampi. While we were waiting for our food, my son mentioned that he ordered the shrimp because that is his benchmark dish to rate an Italian restaurant. I feel the same about the veal.

With our drinks we received yeasty, garlicky rolls that didn't need butter to make them taste fantastic. The salads were standard appetizer salads. I ordered the house vinaigrette which was okay but not great. When the meals were delivered, I found the Veal Marsala to be perfect. A nicely seasoned sauce over tender veal cutlets.

My wife, however, found the salmon lacking. It was a generously sized serving, but it was dry and overcooked. The penne pasta was also on the "dry" side. Her whole meal could have used more moisture. My son was similarly unimpressed by the scampi. He said the seasoning didn't taste right for shrimp; it would have been more appropriate for steak, and it was also overcooked. He said it started out bad and got worse with each shrimp and he left two. Thinking that shrimp is too expensive to leave behind, I tried one and he was right, it was dried out and terrible.

To make things worse, an older lady who was apparently the manager or owner asked how things were and we replied, "Not good." She wasn't listening because she just smiled and continued on through the dining room. It was hard not to feel a little insulted by this. And since she kind of blew us off the first time, I didn't try to talk to her about the poor food. We just paid and got out of there.

To summarize: Momma Mia's is a typical mom & pop restaurant with cheesy Italian decorations and great Veal Marsala, but don't order anything that will be broiled unless you like your food dry. Oh, and expect to pay about 20 or 25% more than you did when it was Palermo's.


Francis Shivone said...

I am sorry to hear this -- I am going to try it this week.

Doohickie said...

Report back and let us know what your experience is. Thanks.

Rat Trap Press said...

Thanks for the report. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to try Palermo's. I had seen the sign for Mama Mia's and wondered if it would be worth a try.

Doohickie said...

What I would say for anyone who is interested in trying them is to go for sauteed and baked stuff, and stay away from grilled stuff. Like I said, the veal marsala was great.

me-ty-jom said...

heres couple ride ups from known food critics
about mAmma mia,
it must of been an off night,
as it hapens to most famous restaurants,
I love their food, I dine @ one of their locations @ least 1's a week

Doohickie said...

I can only comment on our visit, not someone else's. Ours was very disappointing: 2 out of 3 meals were not even really edible, when we tried to tell this to the (owner? manager?), she just smiled and walked away from us without even listening. And it was more expensive than Palermo's.

That was my experience. Your mileage may vary.

me-ty-jom said...

well looks like time will tell for them,
if they r that bad and over priced they will end up closed like palermos and fold in couple of months,

if they r doing good cookin and managin they will b around for a long time

I wish them best of luck they deserve it

FortWorthology said...

I love the location off Race Street, and I have had good times at the Magnolia one as well. Everything we've ever had there has been great - full disclosure, of course, that we're vegetarian and thus are working off an entirely different set of options than y'all.

Doohickie said...

My wife is vegetarian but will eat fish. She said the salmon was extremely dry.

I think at some point in the future we'll give them another try, especially considering the support they've gotten in these comments.

I've only been to the Magnolia location.