Nonna’s and Mama Lou’s in Nuvali

MANILA — Ask a foodie from the south where to go for great food and Mama Lou’s, which first opened in BF Homes Paranaque, will be one of the top answers.

Long known for homey Italian dishes, Mama Lou’s has opened further south along with its “daughter” restaurant, Nonna’s. Just a hop, skip and jump away from each other at Solenad in Nuvali, the two restaurants offer their multi-faceted interpretations of Italian cuisine.

The food at Nonna’s is playful and, at times, deliciously experimental. Perhaps this is where the culinary minds behind the restaurants come to play to test recipes before making it available to the Mama Lou’s branches. I thought some of menu items were gimmicky at first. But upon further savoring, there was a rhyme and reason behind the unusual presentation of the dishes.

The starters let the ingredients sing. The Mushroom Chicharon is one of the reasons to come to this restaurant. Made from mushrooms sourced from nearby Silang, these crunchy bits spiked with their vinegary sauce opens up the tastebuds for what’s to come.

The Insalata Caprese is a vision of freshness and simplicity made up of cherry tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar.

Rostito Di Manzo, its version of Beef Carpaccio, comes with arugula and cherry tomatoes which is like a side salad to the paper thin slices of beef in extra virgin olive oil.

The pasta dishes show a more experimental side playing with ingredients and using only fresh tagliatelle in the recipes. The caviar that tops the Caviar Alfredo pasta dishes may seem wanting. The small amount packs quite a salty wallop that’s enough to give character to the dish.

The Vesuvius penne topped with tomato, cream and pesto, looks really different. Since the penne is served standing up, the sauces just seep into tubular pasta definitely upping the flavor per bite. This was finished in the oven, so the penne is consistently al dente.

Nonna’s brick-oven pizza is soft and chewy showing off the amount of technical know-how that went into producing the crust. The dough is a recipe from the Association Venezia Pizza made with Caputo flour, sea salt and fresh yeast.

The toppings are also a bit unusual. Kimchi pizza is for those enjoy a little heat in their food which is a nice fusion of Korean and Italian.

The Clam Pie is a best-seller. It’s essentially clam chowder pizza which is tasty by itself. But put on a spoonful of honey and some chili flakes as suggested to give it a sweet and spicy spin.

End the meal with the Piazzaockie that’s like a S’more packed into a jar. Best eaten while it’s still piping hot, it’s nice to dig in and have the gooey marshmallow, and have all of that in one spoonful.

HEAVENLY CARBS AT MAMA LOU’S 

If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, cross the street to end up in Mama Lou’s.

Where Nonna’s bywords are hip and playful, Mama Lou’s are traditional and homey. Mama Lou’s is synonymous with hearty meals and tradition. Mains, crispy crust pizzas and huge servings of pasta that that this venerable Italian restaurant are staples in the menu.

The appetizers are more familiar. Nachos, onion rings, gambas, and French fries grace the starter part of the menu.

For those looking for more substantial starters, the menu has garlic sausage, Beef Carpaccio di Manzo, and even, poutine and escargot. It also has appetizer platters for those who can’t decide what to get.

Italian restaurants are known to be pockets of carb heaven. Mama Lou’s is no exception. The pasta entrees of Mama Lou’s are huge portions that are good for sharing. These are made with Barilla pasta in contrast to the fresh pasta from Nonna’s.

The pastas come with olio (oil), cream Alfredo, pomodoro (tomato), and diavolo (spicy tomato) based sauces. The Spaghetti Seafood Olio and the Spaghetti Con Tuyo Filleto are old favorites that frequent diners come back for again and again.

Mama Lou’s also has handmade pasta (lasagna, ravioli and squid ink pasta) and risottos like the Buttered Risotto and the Risotto Di Mare.

Mama Lou’s pizza crust is thin and crunchy as compared to Nonna’s Neapolitan pizzas. All of the pizzas come with a side of alfalfa and romaine.

Apart from favorites like All Meat and Seafood, The Mama Lou’s Special, topped with mango and prosciutto, is a specialty of the restaurant.

Those with a sweet tooth will not be wanting from the dessert selection. Try the mango or blueberry cheesecakes. Have coffee with the tiramisu, apple pie a la mode, and chocolate cake to finish the meal.

Old and new, traditional and experimental, homey and playful — Mama Lou’s and Nonna’s takes on Italian food won’t disappoint.

Mama Lou’s and Nonna’s are located at Solenad in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Mama Lou’s is also located in BF Homes, UP Town Center, and Evia Lifestyle Center.

NOTE: This was originally published as http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/11/30/16/laguna-eats-meet-mama-lous-daughter-nonnas

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