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Monday, June 11, 2012

A GEM IN THE SOUTH: MAMA LOU'S ITALIAN KITCHEN


           I was going through my blog, and noticed that there was an alarming lack of Italian restaurant entries. In fact, there is only one entry.. My Italianni's post which was a food trip from even before I was a blogger, and resulted in some pictures I can only describe as "Ugly Ass". With dishes such as Pizza, Lasagna, and Canneloni, all meals that I grew up on, I actually really love food from the beautiful boot in Europe. 

       Unfortunately, my aversion for Italian food stems from my hyper-acidity. Given that Italian food is predominantly tomato-based, eating a dish with Pomodoro or Marinara sauce would ruin my stomach if consumed in large doses (Unfortunately, I don't know how to consume food in any other dose).

     I first heard of "Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen" during my trip to Soderno, and got a taste of their "Panzarotti", which is basically a "Pizza Pocket", similar to a "Calzone". They had a cream based sauce variant called the Bianca Panzarotti that, when mixed with the Bleu Bheese dip, is phenomenal. A little research revealed that Mama Lou's was actually a restaurant in BF Homes, and anyone who has heard of it, has only heard nothing but good things about it. In fact, I've been planning to meet my online buddies from the South, Kevin, Roxy, and Jaime (All whom I've met through my blog but not yet in person) and our choice of location is..? You guessed it! Mama Lou's!

     Rina and I took Baby Rain down South with us on a Beautiful Saturday morning with the sole purpose of finally trying Mama Lou's!



            Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen is Located in BF Homes, but away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded Aguirre Street. Instead, this little Italian Bistro is nestled in the heart of the village, in a quieter, more peaceful area of Tropical Avenue, on the Las Pinas Side. 



           From the very moment you walk into the restaurant grounds, you can't help but feel their effort to transport you but into a different world, for a memorable dining experience. Mama Lou's manager and owner, the lovely Crystal Tremblay, explained to me that their location is actually her family's old home that they had been trying to sell for years, but couldn't seem to get off their hands. 

      As it turns out, fate had other plans for their home. After her family decided to find another location for their previous restaurant, "Cafe Francais", they realized they didn't need to look very far.



          The simple interiors are brought to life by soothing colors and unique vintage pieces that adorn the walls. More importantly, you can feel the love in this family enterprise. Crystal revealed that all the recipes in their menu was a result of a collaboration of her mother, "Mama Lou", and her father. Neither had any formal training in culinary arts, but their love of food and eating pushed them to try new recipes until their dishes became restaurant quality.

STARTERS


        We started off with some slices of bread, which came with two types of sauces.. A tomato based (Pomodoro?) and a Pesto. The Pesto looked a bit different- Greener and less olive oil than what I'm used to, and I'm guessing It's because the basil is more prominent. A good way to warm up your palate for the awesomeness that was about to ensue. 





         When you're at Mama Lou's, it is important to note that your meal would not be complete unless you wash it down with Mama Lou's trademark Ice Tea it had a wonderful fruity sweetness that made this an extremely refreshing drink.. and not just on a scorching hot day. I promised Rina that I would figure out the components by the end of the day, but I just couldn't.. 



            Mama Lou's Bacon Poutine (P195) is one of those dishes that makes you feel good to be alive. It's comforting and absolutely delicious. First off, the french fries have an unadorned uneven cut to it that gives it a homemade feel, but it's cooked perfectly. The edges were crispy, but the potato itself wasn't hallow, as fast food fries can be. The cheese curds were bathed into the rich brown gravy, melting it it with the potatoes. The gravy itself had a saltiness that accentuated the flavor of the potato and the rich cheese. 


      Funnily enough, the bacon wasn't the star of this show.. Just the cherry on top. 


     Potatoes, melted cheese, gravy and bacon?
 Thrown in a fat guy and a tree, and you've got Christmas!!


        I desperately wanted to try Mama Lou's pizzas, and I was ecstatic to find out that they have a cream based one in their Carbonara Pizza (Size choices: Small (10") 260.00, Large (14") 375.00)! Pizza is one of my favorite things ever.. and like all great tragic love stories it also leads to my downfall. The last time I nearly devoured a Yellow Cab Manhattan Meat Lover's pizza all to myself, I was sick for three days with acids, to the point where I got fever. 


      And though Rina lovingly took care of me during my hour of need, she couldn't help but threw in a few, "Buti nga"  ("Serves you right") here and there for not leaving her some (whoops?). 


              The pizza crust was extremely thin and crispy, and would undoubtedly put Shakey's and their "No Thin Like It" slogan to shame. You can tell this wasn't a store bought, pre-made, almost cardboardesque pie crust. The uneveness of the shape made it evident that great care was taken to make this beautiful pie crust from scratch. 



   
      The white sauce was nice and creamy, and was a great base for the savoriness of the bacon. The sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top was a wonderful way to cap off a brilliant pizza. 


    They also serve a side of Arugula and alfalfa sprouts with it, so you could spruce it up a bit, which is how Rina liked it.


        Being the simple guy I am, I preferred it as it was. 




     Rina wanted to try the Ravioli Epinard (P325), which was pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, and covered in a cream sauce. The first thing I noticed about this dish was how they didn't scrimp on the Raviolis. I've ordered Ravioli dishes in the past, and I was given around 4 chunky pieces of ravioli, and that was it. This had 11 pieces of smaller pillows, but it was packed with the spinach stuffing. 


    The pasta was cooked just right.. It held the stuffing together wonderfully, but a simple swipe of a fork let out the burst of flavor that the medley of Spinach and Ricotta Cheese brought together. 


   The highlight for Rina, was most definitely the white sauce that the Raviolis were bathed in.. It was milky and creamy and had that quality to it that made on bite impossible. 


    Since we were with Baby Rain who didn't want her mommy to put her down, I put two pieces of Raviolo unto Rina's plate for her. I took a quick look at Baby Rain (who has most recently learned the art of "Shouting at the top of her lungs") to baby talk her for a few seconds, and when I looked back at Rina's plate, the pieces were gone! I managed to get a few Ravioli's, but Rina clearly fell in love with it, so whilst I was working on the rest of the Bacon Poutine, she ended up finishing the remaining pieces.


    (I think that was her way of getting back at me for the Manhattan Meat Lovers)
         
DESSERT



     Though we were incredibly stuffed from the carbo-heavy meal we just had, I'm a firm believer in the saying, "There's always room for dessert". Since we were in an Italian restaurant, it was only fitting that we try Mama Lou's Italian Tiramisu (P160). This was an extremely moist cake, in which the delicate sweetness of the cream and biscuits could have made this a dessert on its own. When you add the aromatic flavor of the espresso and Baileys Liqueur, it just adds a totally new dimension to the dish. What I liked about Mama Lou's Tiramisu was that the flavor of the liqueur wasn't overpowering 
(I don't drink hehe).

   There are still so many items on their menu that I wanted to try, but unfortunately, Rina and I only have so much stomach space. Everything we tasted was exceptional, and the next time I visit Mama Lou's, I'll try their more savory dishes, such as the Rosemary Lamb Chops or the Scalopinne Al Limone.

   Even if you aren't from the South, Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen is a beautiful discovery that no one should miss out on! Very reasonable prices, beautiful ambiance, and most importantly.. Delicious food! 


PIX
  

          My buddy Thomas that lives in BF Homes dropped by Mama Lou's to visit his Goddaughter, Baby Rain. 



     Mama Lou's General Manager, Crystal Tremblay, telling us a bit about the restaurant.


"Baby Rain, I know Mama Lou's is yummy, 
but Tita Crystal isn't part of the food."


Mama Lou's Manager Crystal, with some of the lovely members of her staff


Rina and I (Baby Rain too) had a wonderful time at Mama Lou's!
We'll be back, Crystal! See you again soon!

Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen
B1 L36 Tropical Ave. cor. Palace St., BF Int'l
Las PiƱas, Metro Manila
Philippines
(02) 519-1977

27 comments:

  1. Woooo! Charming place :D ! And poutine: Yeah every time I eat a bowl of it, I feel like a slob, with each and every calorie slowly integrating into my abdominal fats :P

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  2. I love Italian food! Definitely going to pay Mama Lou's Kitchen a visit soon! :)

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  3. Mama Lou's is definitely one of the best Italian restaurants. One thing I REALLY want to order is the poutine, and I swear I'm going to remember that the next time I'm there... and your picture is just making me crave for it even more!

    http://tastes-intentions.com

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  4. Hmmm... cream based pizza! I've never tried one like that! (Makes me remember how a friend mentioned that there's an ice cream pizza actually available somewhere... but I don't think I'd go for that. Haha!) But anyway, the place looks quaint! It's a bit too far for me though, but I'll keep this in mind.

    P.S. The sight of that ravioli is killing me. And I agree with you--how often times they serve only a few of those babies; but that plate is a fortune! <3

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  5. the ravioli...ugh the ravioli!! nuff said.

    and oh, can i just again say how adorbz baby Rain is, she looks so much like you.

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    1. Thank you Aliah! And she's so behaved.. like me too!

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  6. Aw...I feel for you! Italian cuisine is one of my favorites, and I'd probably get depressed if I couldn't eat it regularly. I actually consider pizza a major food group. ;-) Have you been to Amici lately? They have many non-tomato-based pasta sauces, and pizza, too. The range and variety of their menu is terrific -- better, even, than some higher-end Italian restos. Plus, given the quality and very convenient location, it's very reasonably priced. :-)

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    1. There's actually an Amici a block away from my office! Haven't tried their cream based pizza though.. thank you for the recco!

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  7. I'm always on the lookout for good ravioli...thanks for this post! :)

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  8. Other terrific non-tomato-based pizzas are Brooklyn's White Pizza and Gino's Pizza Bianca, both of which I love. Shakey's has a Pizza Bianca, too, but I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for it.

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    1. I've tried Shakey's Pizza Bianca and I quite liked it! Thanks so much, Katrina! I'm planning no compiling all this for a singular post! Your suggestions are a big help!

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  9. Naexcite ako sa ravioli! You're right—many restaurants charge a lot for just a few pieces of ravioli and often they don't even taste so good.

    I'm curious as to what happened to Cafe Francais and why the change of cuisines (I assume it was French...?). Did Crystal tell you about it? :)

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    1. The owner of the spot where Cafe Francais was located increased the rent, so Crystal and her family decided it would be best to find another location. But at the same time, it became a blessing in disguise because their new spot adds to the charm of the place :)

      I'm not too sure about the change of the cuisines!

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  10. My family will love this place!! Must try Mama Lou's! :)

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    1. Looking forward to your post, Food Scout!

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  11. I've been there several times and I like the ambiance. It's like eating at your own home.

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  12. wow! we have a weekend house at BF and we often pass by mama lou's but never got to try it. I now know where to go this weekend! thank you for sharing! :) love your blog!

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    1. You definitely should try it Karla! Please share your blog post here if you write about it!

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  13. I used to live a few blocks from that area. Probably , I might book a ticket for a flight to get back home.

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