ITALIAN food made and sold in the UK as a whole couldn’t be further away from a true Italian experience.
Italian food, as TV chef Gino D’Acampo once said, is minimum effort and maximum satisfaction.
But it also requires an atmosphere to match the taste, which means you want a slow-paced, easy feel. You want to imagine yourself sat dining al-fresco at a Roman restaurant ideally run by the same man for a 1,000 years.
Bournemouth has never really had this - until now.
Welcome Mamma Mia, the new and molto bene restaurant in Post Office Road in the town centre.
Run by a passionate family of Veronians who have experience in the trade back in their homeland, Mamma Mia is a restaurant which takes me back to a weekend in Rome I had last summer.
With a deeply impressive woodfire, ingredients sourced from Italy and a menu cooked to the letter in the holy bible of Italian cooking, Mamma Mia serves up a wonderful Italian experience for those weekends you can’t fly to Italy.
Take the building, for instance. How nice to have one less space empty, first of all. But the design outside is quite Italian-esq with the arches and is partly why owner Marco chose it.
And then there is the alfresco dining. The business’ agent is looking to remove the ugly BT phone box outside, but once gone and with the heat of the sun, it genuinely is pleasant.
Most importantly is the food, though. Freshly handmade on site, the food is impressive. The menu isn’t groundbreaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, Italian food is simple, but packs a punch in taste when cooked right.
We had carbonara and a calzone and I can confirm they both match the ones I ate in Rome - which coincidentally were the best examples I had ever had.
I also wish Nicola, Marco and the rest of the team very well in their business venture; it’s ballsy to open any new business in these tough economic times.
But with their service, food and general feel of the restaurant, I think Bournemouth may now have an authentic slice of Italy.