Mama J’s Italian Kitchen – Looe
Not wanting to travel too far on the last day of our holiday, we decided to head into the town and eat at Mama J’s Italian Kitchen. Mum and dad had peeked in the window the week before and thought the pizzas looked promising, and so I was more than happy to head along and see how they measured up.
We couldn’t find any evidence of Mama J’s taking bookings, and we found ourselves joining a queue on the busy Friday night we visited. A woman (Mama J herself, we later presumed) did come to see how many were in our party, although she didn’t return with any haste. However, we were only in the queue for around 15 minutes, which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t really so bad. When she did return it was to offer us a table for two with an additional seat, which we accepted. The table was tucked away in the corner of the room, but was an okay size for three.
It didn’t actually take us very long to decide what we were having, although it did take rather a long time for a member of staff to even look at us again. In fact, it was 20 minutes before we were approached, despite parties who had been seated after us having their orders taken. Finally we were approached, and we ordered both food and drinks so as not to have to face another wait.
35 minutes later, we were all feeling pretty hacked off with the lack of food in front of us. Even in a busy(ish) restaurant, this was an insane length of time to produce two pizzas and a simple pasta dish, so we weren’t in the best of moods when they finally arrived (with no apology for the wait).
Mum and I had both opted for pizzas, mum selecting the Meaty Mama (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ground beef, salami, pepperoni and chicken) and me going for Mama J’s Tricolore (pesto, mozzarella, goat’s cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts). Mum’s choice was without a doubt the best of a bad bunch – a not-too-bad pizza base topped with average tomato sauce and a pretty standard selection of meats. Definitely nothing to write home about, but far, far better than the other dishes at the table.
My initial reaction to my pizza was disappointment – there wasn’t much goat’s cheese to be seen and, instead of an evenly spread base, the pesto had been dolloped untidily in big mounds across the pizza. Indeed, I could hardly discern the cheese amongst the other ingredients – to be honest, I couldn’t really taste anything other than the cloying, overpowering pesto. I feel that I should confirm at this point that I, usually, love pesto, but on this particular occasion it was far too strong and there was around six times as much as there should have been on the pizza. I ended up trying to scrape some of the offending sauce off, but the flavour had imparted itself across the base and I didn’t even attempt to finish the pizza.
Even my pretty rubbish pizza was better than dad’s Penne Pomodoro. The traditional pasta with tomato sauce could be upgraded with chilli or chicken for a supplement, and dad opted to add both to his order. What arrived was a bowl of pasta coated in a rather dull, sorry looking tomato sauce. It became clear to dad rather quickly that there was very little chilli in the dish – in fact, for an extra £1, he appeared to have only a couple of pieces of chilli (both of which had seen better days). When the waiter came to quality check our table, dad actually complained about the lack of chilli. The waiter seemed a bit flustered by the fact that someone had complained about something, and fairly soon we were talking to the woman who had originally seated us (and who we now figured was the manager, and possibly the eponymous Mama J). She proceeded to make a series of excuses for the lack of chilli (“oh, I though you didn’t want much”, “we only add a little, because you can’t take it away but you can add more” etc.) all of which were feeble attempts to placate us. Dad simply asked for the supplementary cost to be removed from the bill, which we also promptly requested.
In fairness, the full cost of dad’s pasta was removed from our bill, leaving us to pay only for the pizzas and drinks. However, this was a pretty diabolical meal with shoddy service and I would highly recommend that people steer well clear of Mama J’s – I certainly wouldn’t return if you paid me!