Family meals look different to different people. For some, it means four generations, sitting around your dining table. For others, it means fighting a sibling for the remote whilst you attempt to balance microwaved soup on your lap. Or it might just mean eating pizza whilst being horizontal on your best mate’s sofa. You can’t beat that family meal feeling. And La Mia Mamma is effectively our dream family dinner, that just happens to be at a restaurant.
The concept of this dinner-only spot is simple. A troupe of female chefs, known as the mammas, cook a menu of regional Italian food. Every few months a different mamma takes charge, and the focus shifts to a new region. But what you really need to know is, if you’re able to walk back onto the King’s Road at the end of the night without clutching your stomach like a pregnant celebrity on their first cover, then you’re doing this place wrong. This is rich, probably-need-a-follow-up-nap food. Why just have gnocchi, or even gnocchi drenched in gorgonzola, when you can have gnocchi drenched in gorgonzola and then covered in parmesan and walnuts?
At La Mia Mamma, more is more. Literally more. In the middle of your tagliatelle alla bolognese, someone will appear and shove a ladle of a new lasagne they’re trialing onto your plate. Ten minutes later they’ll appear with another ladle, this time with something from the robata grill. Come here hungry, or don’t come at all.
You should be warned, this isn’t somewhere you come to for a quiet night. Or a first date. It’s got the constant buzz, and noise, of a reunion. Your conversation might be interrupted by a waiter from the wooden bar calling for more tomato sauce to one of the mammas making handmade tortelloni in the window. Or, if it’s someone’s birthday, get ready, because you’re about to witness the most endearing musical collective you’ve ever seen. Every chef and mamma will line up, birthday conga style, banging pots and pans. That lady that just made you a killer pollo ripieno is suddenly owning a tambourine like Stevie Nicks auditioning for a Sean Paul music video. You’ll want them to adopt you, not just so you can live in this rustic, exposed brick pasta playground, but because the energy of this place is addictive.
La Mia Mamma does have the ability to turn any bad mood into a good one, but if the food wasn’t as excellent as it is, it could easily feel like a theme restaurant for pasta lovers with Oedipus complexes. But the food is excellent. This is one of the best cacio e pepe we’ve ever had in London. And it’s all affordable. The ‘build your own’ regional mamma’s menu means you can get antipasti to share, your choice of pasta, a dessert, and an espresso for £28. Throw an Aperol Spritz and an additional main into the mix and you’re looking at £38. Which granted, is more expensive than that free dinner at your mum’s, but La Mia Mamma is worth it. After all, family time is important.
Fun story: when we ate this we actually forgot to breathe, that’s how committed to shovelling it in our mouths we were. It’s the kind of dish where all conversation gets replaced by chewing. Again, it’s the best cacio e pepe we’ve eaten in London.
Eating this is like watching Life Is Beautiful, snuggled up with a blanket, with rain tapping on the window. It’s a comforting classic, done right, and it’ll give you a lot of feelings. You need this.
As rich as Bill Gates in a bathtub of dollar bills. This is one you shouldn’t miss, but should also share. There’s only so much gorgonzola one person can take on alone.
We would cheat on a roast with this dish. And we wouldn’t even feel bad about it. Not quite up there with the pastas, but it’s the must-order of the mains.
Eating here is a feast that could go on and on. And on. This £5.50 tiramisu is one of the tastiest ways of saying The End there is. Once the desserts are out, the mammas will stop feeding you pasta. We can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be agonisingly full by this point, but eat it anyway.