Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Apr 20, 2007 02:05 PM

Mama Mia - San Diego

Has anyone been to Mama Mia in PB? I am going to head there tonight. I think it is a little family local eatery. I'll report back. The menu looks simple, cheap and good.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. So I went to Mama Mia last Friday evening for dinner and it was very nice. The owners I believe used to own Ciao Bella in La Mesa but have been looking to open something in PB. They sold Ciao Bella and opened this little jem, loacted just around the corner from Lamont St. Grill. The husbadn runs the front and the wife is the chef. Such a cute setting, and very welcoming atmosphere. The food was very good, simple, fresh, and rustic. Not huge portions though, which left room for some of the best Tiramisu I have had to date. It was creamy and light and not too sweet. If you are having a hard time trying to decide what to get off the menu just ask the staff or just get a pizza (this is the Italian kind, not New York or Chicago). It is currently a BYOW, no liquor license yet, and there is a 7-11 right next door where we got a bottle of Backstone on sale. They have an extensive menu, almost too big. This place will be great in the summer with their outdoor seating. I felt like I was having a nice homemade authentic Italian dinner at some little place off the beaten path in northern Italy. I wish the owners much luck and cannot wait to head back to try something new.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mcmama

      So where in PB is it? There are those of us that could find Grossmont Center in our sleep but don't know our Garnets from our Grands.

      1. re: mcmama

        So THAT'S where they went!!! We really liked Ciao Bella in La Mesa. The food was a notch above the usual neighborhood pizzeria/pasteria, but half of the attraction was the genial Italian charm of the owners. One day, they were gone and the La Mesa venue, while keeping the same name, had morphed into a sort of Italianate coffee house -- not bad, but no longer what it was. The La Mesa place had parking problems, and there was competition among the strip-mall tenants for the few available spaces. There had been instances of people parking in a stall claimed by the convenience store, and then getting towed when they went into the restaurant instead. Thanks for letting us know about Mama Mia; I'm going to try it for sure.
        . . . jim strain

        1. re: mcmama

          I’m glad to hear there is a new addition of good food in PB…that is the good news.

          The bad news is that the restaurant is in one of the worst locations in PB, nothing has survived there! There is really only one way to get there and only street parking available. It is west bound on Balboa Ave just prior to the merge on Grand Ave on the right. A very difficult location, but hopefully the food is good enough to survive the logistics.

          1. re: pbhomey

            Luckily, I don't think Mamma Mia's will have a problem surviving. I went last night for my bday and the place was PACKED on a Wed. night.

        2. The wife and I just had lunch at this place. We had the lodigiana salad topped with meat and in a tunne sauce (5.95), the lasagna (7.95), and the ravioli al casale (7.95). All were recommendations from the server and all the dishes were quite tasty.

          I had the opportunity to talk to the owner, Francisco, during the course of the meal. He let me know that all the pasta is hand made and his wife prepares all the dishes. In his words, “Nothing frozen here!” And yes, BYOW with no charge.

          Only word of caution, the restaurant is an old wood house with wood floors and sounds seem to echo throughout. And, Francisco is extremely enthusiastic and his voice carries well.

          All and all, a great addition to Pacific Beach!

          Mamma Mia
          1932 Balboa Ave
          11:30 – 9:30
          Closed Monday

          6 Replies
          1. re: pbhomey

            PBHomey, is the place ok to bring kids? Well behaved kids?

            1. re: Katdiego

              Don't see why not...most of the table settings were for either 2 or 4. Not a very big place at all. Prices are quite reasonable.

              1. re: pbhomey

                did you find out what kind of pizza oven they are using? I obviously have my fingers crossed for a wood fired one.

            2. re: pbhomey

              PBHomey, Was this a mexican place before? And then stood empty for a little while? Where do you park when you go? Is the alley in the back one way only? Any parking back there?

              1. re: Katdiego

                Kat, I just park on Balboa before their location. I tend to go early and have not had any problem parking there. I do not know about the alley. Yes, this was the mexican place before and about ten other places before that.

            3. We had a most enjoyable meal at Mamma Mia tonight. The owners are a hard working, charming couple. The food was delicious... the ambiance was quaint... and next time we will remember to bring our own bottle of wine, as they don't have their license, yet. We enjoyed their mista salads - the dressing is excellent with a nice garlic kick. The bread is home made and was hard to resist. The pesto pizza with shrimp was excellent with a thin, flaky crust. I ordered the penne with eggplant and mozzarella in a tomato sauce- very good. I will order the spicy marinara soup with clams next time. And the tiramisu was a wonderful finish. Great new spot for Pacific Beach.

              3 Replies
              1. re: KSin

                Was there on Thursday, what a great addition to the the neigborhood. Highly caffenated staff, good service, great food. Had the veal and the girl had the gnocci both were top knotch. The Zeppoli (deep fried bread) with imported meats was also great. Plenty of well behaved children were there, also there is a heated patio in the back with additional seating.

                1. re: stevuchan

                  We took our kids when they were a bit on edge. They can color on the paper placemats, just BYO Crayons. Their highchairs are CLEAN! The owners have a 2 and a 4 y/o so they are very understanding. My two year old and I just had a date there and dined on the suasage and cheese pizza. Very good. They have mini pizza for the kids not on the menu, like $5.95. I have the spinach salad, very good.

                  1. re: stevuchan

                    Yes, the staff is definitely high energy and there is kind of a constant din in the room. We ate in the front room but maybe the back patio is more quiet. We all really enjoyed our meals, especially the BYOW part, although Francisco said that they should have a liquor license by summer. The special ravioli with gorgonzola and walnut sauce was outstanding as was the fried focaccia with tallegio cheese.

                2. My husband, oldest grandson and I had dinner here a week and a half and ago and it was literally the best italian food we've ever had! We LOVE the staff as much we love the food- it feels like you're having dinner with your best friends from Italy- so great! The ravioli with gorgonzola and walnut sauce is almost indescribably good, as was the appetizer that was recommended - a sort of turn over, but fluffier, filled with ham and cheese . . . wow. We had the gelato for dessert and espresso... all perfect. We're going back tonight!

                  1. Like Jim, I was wondering where the Ciao Bella owners had moved! We loved their food in La Mesa and were very disappointed when we decided to stop there back in February...and I knew they had new owners by the taste.

                    The owner's wife is an excellent cook. My only complaint was the wait time sometimes, but always good, fresh food. Great chicken, great sauces, great potatoes made Italian style. Well, good, I'm anxious to see the menu there and see if there are any carryovers!

                    I still have a hard time visualizing where this place is. If parking is a problem, maybe I'll go on the Harley!