|Mamma Rosa: A Gem At Merton Abbey Mills|
Get away from it all at this value Italian
The Mamma Rosa Italian restaurant certainly has a location and ambience to mark it out from other eateries in SW19.
It's situated on the historic Merton Abbey Mills site, close to the River Wandle, and is a vast, long, restaurant. Even when it gets full, there's no way of feeling too near the neighbouring diners.
There was actually no danger of that when we took our places near one of the front windows, at around 7.15pm on a Saturday night. But as our meal went on, more people arrived and the atmosphere was quite pleasant.
Mamma Rosa has an a la carte menu, but many of the dishes also appear on the set dinner menu. This offers a starter and main course for £10.95, with a choice of around 11 main dishes and six starters.
We both settled for the set dinner option, with my companion starting with homemade minestrone soup, while I had 'bruschetta all Italiana'.
The soup was fine, but not all that remarkable. My bruschetta came with a heady-sounding combination of tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and anchovies. I'm a fan of all those, but was glad that none of the flavours were too over-powering, to make it a tasty starter.
My main course was 'trota alla mugnaia' - a whole baked river trout in butter and lemon sauce. It came with spinach and potatoes.
It was a generously-sized trout and it was cooked perfectly. The sauce was not too distinctive, but did go well with the trout. I enjoyed the well-done potatoes, but found my spinach portion was a bit too Popeye-sized for my liking.
My dining partner had 'linquine con gameroni e rucola' - pasta with spicy king prawns and rocket in a cherry tomato sauce. She liked the king prawns, although the dish was perhaps not as spicy as she'd have liked. However, it was another large portion and they certainly didn't skimp on the prawns.
To accompany our meal, we each had a 175ml glass of wine - a Soave and a Chardonnay. We preferred the Soave, and my companion had one more small glass.
We were too full to both have one of the range of Italian desserts on offer. But we shared a portion of mixed ice cream. This was well presented, and another big portion.
With the addition of a mocha coffee, which I had to round off my evening, the final bill (including 10% service charge) came to £43.80. I thought this represented good value and as we left I also appreciated the advantage of a location with such handy parking.
July 12, 2011