City wanderings - and a pilgrimage to some of the best eating and drinking spots in Brussels. Or maybe not eating or drinking - ah, oh well.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mamma Roma

Most of June seems to have passed me by in a whirlwind of city breaks, essay deadlines, ill-advised running races, and a windy, rainy rowing excursion to France.  I'm back now, and hope to be around again for some time.  I have new places to write about.  Tonight I'm supposed to be summarising a lecture on "Public Mass Communication" or "Cyber Satire", as punishment for missing an online seminar in favour of a pasta and spritz-fuelled trip to Rome.  Cyber satire?  Thankfully, the internet connection is not working too well, so I am spared writing about this no doubt interesting subject - for another few hours at least. 
I have an Italian friend who is not a fan of the pizzas at Mamma Roma.  Apparently she ordered three whole pizzas for a party once and this cost 65 euros.  I think I would have squirmed at the price as well, but then Mamma Roma isn't the place you go to eat whole pizzas!  Having just returned from Rome I am confident that this little venue does go a long way to faithfully recreate the shops I sampled there in Trastevere: large rectangular pizzas of all different varieties, deftly snipped up with scissors in front of you and gently warmed and served on wooden chopping boards.  If only I could also recreate a Brussels version of L'Archetto in Rome, recommended to me by an Italian bank employee, where I counted about 40 different types of spaghetti sauce on the menu.   Choosing was difficult, so I laughed when I read my friend's account of her Nigella-inspired spaghetti with.... marmite (  Oh spare me - take me back to Rome!

I once wrote that In de Pattatezak (with its three spaghetti choices) helped me learn to eat spaghetti with a spoon and fork; so fast forward a few months and I was stumped to be given a knife and fork in Rome.  And then in Mamma Roma they use scissors.  Personally I find the sight of pizza being snipped up very satisfying and every time I go there I have a curious vision of Johnny Depp performing topiary pruning.  Could scissors ever take off as eating implements in restaurants?  I expect not, but not-so-crispy pizza bases and the knives supplied to attack them can frustrate many a ravenous pizza devotee.

When an Italian talks about food you tend to listen, and it may be that Alessandra is right that Mamma Roma pizzas are a little greasier than in Rome, but they are crispy and tasty and the quality ingredients used are the same.  You just turn up and see which grouping is on offer: one night it might be potato, garlic and truffle, pumpkin and pancetta and mozzarella and basil.  You gesture to indicate the snip of pizza you'd like, wait a bit for it to be heated and weighed, and then commence!  Your fellow eaters will invariably be young-ish, but later in the evening you'll also catch businessmen in suits dropping in for some takeaway slices, no doubt prompted by the discovery that the fridge contains only an unopened bottle of chablis, and that the Missus is away.

Mamma Roma has three different locations in Brussels:

5 chaussée de Vleurgat
1050 Ixelles.
Sunday to Tuesday: 12:00 - 23:00
Wednesday to Saturday: 12:00 - 24:00

Tel: 02 640 42 80

Rue du Page
1050 Ixelles.

Sunday to Tuesday: 12:00 - 23:00
Wednesday to Saturday: 12:00 - 24:00

Tel: 02 544 14 02

Place Jourdan, 37
1040 Etterbeek.

Sunday to Thursday: 12:00 - 23:00
Friday, Saturday: 12:00 - 24:00

Tel: 02 640 69 40

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