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May 20, 2011 05:32 AM

Massa - Italian and Portugese Fusion

Massa just opened up on Butler Avenue in Ambler. There have been a number of positive things said on these boards about the restaurant under various topics, so I wanted to give its own topic.

Portguese is one of my favorite cuisines. There are so many fantastic Portugese restaurants in the Northeast (Taste of Portugal, Cafe Tio Pepe, etc.) but we definitely needed a Portguese spot in the burbs.

The menu is a mix of italian and Portguese dishes, with salads and woodfired pizzas. We have been there a few times for lunch and dinnner. Given my love for Portugese dishes, I already explored the Portugese side of the menu. I love their flaming chorizo, very good quality sausage served slaming in a terra cotta pig (cute presentation). Better than the Portugese places in the city, likely because of the high quality. I have also tried their pork and clams, which had nice broth (perfect for dunking in the portguese rolls). Their bacalau was good (though my husband said too many bones). On the italian side of the menu, they have homemade pasta with bolgnese sauce (good, but Mirna's is still the best in the area). Their pizzas are fantastic, perfect crispy crust. Similar to the pizza at Arpeggio (another favorite pizza spot). The chorizo pizza with olives and sliced chorizo is my favorite. I heard good things about the proscuitto pizza and am dying to try that. I also heard good things about their deserts, but have yet to try them (I wish my toddler would sit still long enough to let me have dessert!).

Its a small little BYO, the decor is a nice warm space, open kitchen with tiled pizza over, very small an intimate, not a ton of tables. We go at off hours so it is rarely crowded but I see it fill up during prime dinner hours. They do offer take out.

Prices are reasonable, about $15 for a large pizza, entrees in the $20 range. BYO helps, and there is a state store perfectly situated across the street.

We have been there a few times and serive for us ranged from just okay to fantastic, depending on the server.

Definitely a great addition to Ambler, I have a feeling I will start becoming a regular there soon!

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  1. We went last night and while the food was good (not great), the service was terrible! We arrived on time for our 7:30 reservation. We were told our table would be ready in 5 minutes. After 20 minutes we were finally seated. We are pretty easy going, but it took entirely too long for the server to approach our table to take our order. We ordered the Halibut, Penne Vodka with Crabmeat, the Grilled Filet Mignon and a Vegetarian entree. We started with the Chopped Caesar and the Mesclun salads.

    I don't want to slam the place since they haven't been open long and I want to support local business in Ambler. I think we will wait a while, then go back and give them another try. Service was painfully slow the entire evening. It was incredibly loud as well.

    1. I went there last night, with my friends MB & Bob. Did not have a reservation but they were able to accomodate us at 7PM. It is a cute little restaurant - very nicely decorated. The food was good - and very reasonable. I started with the Tuna Carpaccio, Bob had the steamed clams, and MB a house salad. For dinner, I had the crabcake, Bob the Paella and MB the Salmon. There was also a variety of pizzas which I would like to try next time. We passed on dessert.

      Service was very attentive. The only downfall - the A/C was not working correctly and it was very hot in the restaurant. No fans or anything - we were ready to leave pretty quickly after eating.

      A nice addition on the Ambler dining scene - parking is convenient at the lot next door.

      1. Four of us went to Massa Friday night and took advantage of Amblers Restaurant Week special. We must have been busy visiting with each other, and didn't realize until our orders were delivered that we had all ordered the Papperdelle Bolognese. I had no regrets because it was delicious. My husband's tuna carpaccio to start was delicious and the Creme Brulee was one of the best I've ever had. The service was competent and I look forward to going back to try more of the menu.

        1. Got to try this place last night. Despite being Mothers Day, at dinner time it was only about half full. It was a mixed experience, though overall pretty good. As mentioned above the chorizo was very good. Simple, but a good sausage with nice presentation, I liked adding a little extra char to the sausage. Tuna carpaccio was ok, the tuna was not cut very well. Bacalou was good and mostly well prepared, very few bones and served with nice crispy potatoes. Again this very simple--just the bacalou, four potatoes, and olives. I thought it actually needed extra salt, to bring out some flavor. However it was served over a pool of oil... I mentioned this to the server casually and he said "it goes great with the potato, right?" It would have, it wasn't so much that every bite coated my lips in oil. Another person at the table got the bacalao and they didn't seem to have as much oil in their dish, so maybe the chef poured a little more than usual in mine. Still, I liked the dish. I wasn't impressed with the few bites of paella I tried.

          I was not smitten with the pizza... it looked good but did not have a crispy crust, it was soft and too much cheese. Overall the food seemed inconsistent both across this meal and compared to the other reviews, maybe it was a long day for the kitchen staff or they just have trouble with consistency.

          Service was mixed too.. the server was very pleasant when he was at the table, but took forever to take our orders and offer dessert and coffee after the table was cleared. The whole meal took about 2.5 hours which would have been fine if we were lingering over coffee but not rushing to finish it because we sat at an empty table for 20+ minutes. I also felt a tiny bit insulted when the staff offered to wrap up a tiny piece of left over chorizo, the stub end of a stromboli and the leftover rice from the paella, but I guess some people like that.

          Overall I'd go back if in Ambler or nearby but the experience wasn't worthy of a destination visit. For Portuguese, Koo Zee Doo has a much more interesting menu and more flavorful food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: barryg

            Must have been an off day. I've had the pizza there, and agree with Ambler Girl, it was very crispy which is the way I like it. Was there last week for the pasta bolonese which was hearty and satisfying. Also have to say their fresh rolls are habit forming. My only complaint is the house salad - could you do something more than lettuce and dressing? C'mon, put some cheese, onion or something on there to make it worth eating.