Mamma Maria, the red gravy stalwart that has been serving a prix fixe menu at 1637 E Passyunk Ave. for 21 years, has finished renovating and added an additional a la carte menu. Plus, there’s a new little gelato shop that will stay open until 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The standard prix fixe menu, at $55 a head including free wine and after-dinner limoncello, will still be offered in one half of the dining room. But in the other half, owners Maria DiMarco (Mamma) and her daughter Paola Chiavatti are now offering elements of that feast on an a la carte basis, plus a selection of sandwiches and other smaller bites (see the full menu below).
Both sides of the restaurant are still BYOB.
The flavors of gelato, shipped in from Italian maker Bindi, include hazelnut, vanilla, dark chocolate, pistachio, mint and strawberry, plus lemon and orange sorbetto “ripieno.” That means the sorbetto comes served in a hollowed-out piece of the fruit.
Chiavatti closed her Center City lunch spot Pasto, which was across from the east side of City Hall, a couple years back and just recently began helping out her mother. She said the a la carte menu is aimed at grabbing the younger arrivals to the neighborhood, who she says are more likely to steer clear of gut-busting seven-course meals.
Chiavatti was also the one who decided to remove the old signs and install the two new banners, including the one that says “Stay hungry, my friends.” And yes, that is a deliberate reference to the Dos Equis commercials. Chiavatti said that Mamma, who doesn’t drink, is as full of life and passion as that most interesting man in the world.
But those signs are meant to be temporary. The restaurant had initially been signed up to complete PARC’s facade improvement program, but pulled out this year. Chiavatti said she hopes to renovate the entire front as part of the program next year.
Check out the website for the prix fixe menu, but here’s the new a la carte one.