Mamma Primi: a tasty trip to Italy
I hate queuing. I am extremely unhappy when I have to wait in general, but queues are the worst – there aren’t many things in this world that I could make me queue for more than one hour. Maybe meeting Leonardo DiCaprio, the Queen of England, or getting free pairs of Saint Laurent shoes… This is why when a restaurant gets particularly popular and that going there involves queuing for more than a few minutes, I take it out of my bucket list. Seriously, what is going on with restaurants refusing to take reservations? That's a Parisian trend that I find really irritating. Then again, if I could get a free meal at L’Arpège or Osteria Francescana, I’d be the first in the queue.
When I was in Paris recently, one of my best friends suggested we would try a new place for lunch. Mamma Primi is the last opening of a young food crew who already owns two of the most talked about restaurants in Paris in the past few months, East Mamma and Ober Mamma. In spite of the tremendous hype that surrounds these Italian eateries, I have never tried any of these places, because they don’t take reservations and the only way to get a table is to go there really early to give your name so you are put on a list and get a table eventually, about 2 to 3 hours later. This booking process requires organisation and patience, but this is supposedly a way for the restaurant to fill the tables several times over the course of a service and making the business the most profitable. But God, does it make the experience painful.
On this Saturday, my friend and I had planned to meet at Mamma Primi at 12.45pm. I got there at 12.30pm and this place functioning on the same basis as the two aforementioned, I was told we could get a table for 2pm. Fortunately, neither I or my friend were at starving point so we decided to wait and enjoy a coffee on the terrace of the café right in front of the restaurant. We had a lot to chat about so the time literally flew. We got our table at the scheduled time and sat inside an absolutely stunning décor. Part Art deco, part trattoria, part fancy café, the place is so beautiful I'd strongly recommend you sit inside.
At that point, it is important to say that I never ever order pasta in a restaurant. The one and only place I do order pasta is in Italy. Pasta in a restaurant in France is a big no-no because firstly, they are always overcooked – I like mine al dente – and also, pasta is such a delicious home dish that it seems like a waste to get it at a restaurant. Same goes for chicken breast – who gets chicken breast in a good restaurant, seriously?
Ober Mamma and East Mamma being famous for their burrata, we decided to share one that was also on this menu, and then to share the truffle pasta and the tortellini Mantovani, some ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, amaretti and gorgonzola. It was lunchtime, and we had busy afternoons ahead of us, so we both stuck to one glass of wine each, although we spend a good bit of time looking at the wine list.
Every item on the list comes with a funny line that is supposed to help you pick what wine you need according to your current mood, like “I just want a good glass of red to go with my pizza, I don’t want to go through a 15 page wine list”, “I want a white wine that is refined and elegant, like my wife” or “I want a strong southern wine, silky and warm, some crazy freaking shit.” We went for the Valpolicella, described as “I want to be happy, and I am worth it”. Definitely for us.
The burrata deserves its reputation. Incredibly creamy, served with olive oil, crack pepper and some nice warm bread – bread is life, my friends, especially for a Frenchie leaving abroad – but not overwhelmingly rich, the burrata fulfilled all our dreams of cheesy decadence.
I have a very, very soft spot for truffles, and I wouldn’t hate anything more than being disappointed with a truffle pasta. They are a staple of the house, and for a good reason – they were absolutely delicious and properly addictive.
Maybe a tiny bit rich – the sauce is mascarpone based – but the taste of truffle was well balanced and I would go back just for another serving of this. The tortellini were a great surprise as well. The butternut and the amaretti gave a pretty sweet note while the taste of gorgonzola was pleasantly subtle – a few parmesan shavings balanced it all brilliantly.
After this carb overload, we really had no room for dessert. Which was a shame, as they are supposed to be super tasty. Well, I guess that gives us a good reason to go back. And if that involves a couple of hours waiting, well, maybe it’s their way of making sure that we are hungry enough so we don't miss out on the sweet things.