When I am in New York, I almost equally eat at restaurants and cook at home. But surprisingly, when I am in California I primarily cook at home, with the occasional take-out that I bring home to eat as well. This is probably in part because I hate to drive, find parking, etc. and almost every restaurant that I am interested in is at least a 30 minute drive away.
However, every once in a while I can be convinced to venture out and on this trip to California, I was enticed by an Italian restaurant in Newport Beach. I had driven past Mama D’s last December on the way to a Christmas party and my curiosity was piqued! As for the restaurant itself, the architecture is typical of old school beach town and has an atmosphere that is relaxed and inviting. The walls are covered with photos of the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and other celebs of note.
We kicked of the meal with a bottle of ONEHOPE California Merlot. I wasn’t aware of this wine until I saw it on the menu and was impressed, because the company donates 50% of its profits from the Merlot to charities who support the fight against AIDS. Not only was I able to feel good about the choice, but the wine was excellent as well!
For starters, we kept it light. I had the Italian Garden Salad, a composition of lettuces, tomato, carrot, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, shredded mozzarella and olives. My dining companion had the Caprese salad. We both enjoed the salads and they whetted our appetite for the main course.
My main course was Ethan’s Eggplant Parmigiana and it was one of the best eggplant parmesans that I have had in a restaurant. The sauce was perfectly seasoned and it was not sweet as were the last two times that I had ordered it in a restaurant. The only thing I would hae done in retrospect is to have ordered a side of pasta. My companion had the Veal Marsala (despite my dirty looks and threats of a lecture) and said that it was excellent. Not as good as the Marsala sauce I make, but one of the best he has had. :) Quite frankly, I was stuffed from the very rich eggplant parmesan, so I passed on dessert this time. However, the desserts at the other tables looked quite yummy.
I will most definitely be back to dine at Mama D’s, as they serve EXCELLENT Italian food. I can’t wait to try other things on the menu! But even better than the atmosphere and the food was the service. The staff at Mama D’s is exceptionally friendly and attentive, from the hosts to the servers and busboys! Sending a special shout out to our server Natalie who made our dining experience at Mama D’s special and memorable!