Mamma Mia’s Review, Newcastle (Now Closed)

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Mamma Mia’s is one of those restaurants in Newcastle you’ll have walked past hundreds of times but probably never ventured into. Situated down Pudding Chare, I only became aware of them at the North East Vegan Festival, back in November. Mr. Canny was interested in the fact they had a specific vegan menu, so we went along as a family to try it out.

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One of the crazy things we’ve uncovered in our education on all things vegetarian and vegan is that not all wines and beers are suitable for people who follow a plant-based diet to drink. I’ll not go into the gruesome details with beers, but it involves fishes bladders. Gross. Mamma Mia’s has vegan friendly wine, so he decided to indulge in a glass of red with his food.

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The restaurant interior of plastic check table cloths and mismatched crockery wasn’t anything that would concern me. It has a certain kitsch charm. I remember frequenting Luigi’s in the Bigg Market in my A-Level days for Italian grub & Mamma Mia’s reminded me a lot of there. I love my Italian food, as does Jnr, and it’s been a bit of a bust of late avoiding eateries because of their inability to cater for vegans. Finding somewhere like this, which serves its dishes with dairy substitutes, meant we could potentially have a family meal without the stresses of phoning ahead if we fancied something simple and cheap to eat in the Toon.

I decided to also go vegan this particular evening so Mr. Canny could sample my food. We started rather simply with Potato Skins and Garlic Bread with Cheese for the 3 of us to share. So far, so standard. The ‘cheese’ didn’t have the same stringy nature as Mozzarella, and was an almost crispy topping to the bread. Jnr wasn’t keen, but I compensated with the garlic mayo dip we had with the potatoes.

imageimageJnr chose a standard Margherita, which comes with a thin and crispy pizza base. He polished it off without much grumbling, so I’m taking that as a positive sign. I had the Butternut Squash Risotto, which forsakes the usual cream for soy milk. Mr. Canny was going to pick this, but instead went for their Melanzane, which was topped with a vegan cheese sauce.

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I found the risotto overly sweet, which made me wonder whether the chef had used sweetened soy milk. The whole thing was in desperate need of some ‘tang’, and the dried herbs which were liberally sprinkled over the top made me want to sneeze. The menu promised it was to be served with fresh rocket, of which there was none. imageMr. Canny’s main was also a victim to the dried herbs, but he was much happier with his dish. The layers of baked aubergine and courgette withstood the assault better than my risotto, and the vegan bechamel sauce was pleasant. When I told him my gripes he asked me specifically to say he thoroughly enjoyed his food, knowing that I wasn’t as impressed and the review would reflect that. Full marks to them for commitment, however.

The food is cheap (£6.50 for a vegan main) when contrasted with Sabatini and Prima, both located on the Quayside, and the service is extremely warm and welcoming. It is run by a son and mum team, and I can’t fault their enthusiasm having had a good chat with them while we were there. It also got super busy as the evening wore on, which I was surprised at considering it was a week night and their location. A positive sign it has a loyal customer base. They have a Steak Night on a Monday for a tenner, which includes a drink, so don’t just cater for the vegetarians and vegans of the Toon. They insist the vegan menu is cooked separately to the other dishes in the kitchen however, which will allay some fears I’ve seen expressed in the community on Facebook when discussing where to eat out. We will no doubt return for Mr. Canny to try out more from the menu, but I think next time I’ll chose more carefully.

Thanks for reading,

Emma

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4 Comments

  1. mandy charlton

    There’s just no such thing as good vegan cheese, I know I sighed a huge sigh of relief when Abigail converted to vegetarian, being a vegan is brutal and hard work and I don’t think it works well in families, it’s so restrictive. Vegetarianism is a lot more fun and our doctors agree that Abigail is in much better health now.

    Reply
    1. Emma Phillips (Post author)

      Jnr is vegetarian now, by his own choice too. I’d say the substitutes are coming on in leaps and bounds and I have eaten quite nice fake cheese that was homemade, but who has the time to do that?!

      Reply
  2. JackieB

    The whole point of a risotto is that it’s the starches released by the stirring process that make it creamy, so dairy products are redundant: it’s the easiest thing to make vegan because all it needs is some veggies and nuts to make it dairy & meat free naturally. I made a parsnip, pea and hazelnut risotto recently that needed no dairy, and there are dozens of recipes on the same theme. No idea what this “Italian” restaurant thought it was playing at. Also worth pointing out, before folks get all squeamish about it, fish bladder is absolutely nothing to do with the urinary tract of the creature. The process is very similar to using egg finings.

    Reply
    1. Emma Phillips (Post author)

      Had a terrible version of a vegan risotto elsewhere, but couldn’t bring myself to write a blog about it. Plus I was ill for days afterwards and it is suspected that the rice was either not stored correctly after its initial cooking or they hadn’t heated it thoroughly enough. Food poisoning over Christmas while pregnant is not good!

      Reply

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