Mama Mia of Northport  Review


It's Friday night and the pizza counter at the new Mama Mia of Northport is pumping out takeout pies with a vengeance. The adjacent dining space, barely separated, is packed — and noisy. True, the strip mall offshoot of Porto Fino in Huntington is understaffed, with dine-in orders trickling out of the kitchen. But the food makes up for the wait — which, on a subsequent weeknight, turns out to be minimal. Just as it should be at a crowd-pleasing pizza-pasta-parm place.

Start with a crisp-crusted Margherita pizzette, topped with a bright confluence of plum tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil. Somehow, the melanzana version with cubed eggplant doesn't come together as well. But chef-owner Augusto Palmieri's baked clams, fresh and briny beneath their garlicky bread-crumb caps, work nicely. And while a cold antipasto is incorrectly described as a tossed salad, the arrangement of salami, cheeses and vegetables is nonetheless ample and colorful.

Parks rule here. It's hard to decide between the fork-tender chicken or the lush and meltingly fine eggplant, both blanketed in molten mozzarella and a red sauce that manages to be at once brassy and mellow. Chicken pizzaiola with vegetables and a lusty marinara is decorously plated with fresh carrots and green beans.

A real surprise turns out to be Cajun grilled salmon, a generous slab lightly glossed with a spicy brown sauce, surrounded by grilled vegetables. Like most entrees, it comes with a side of pasta.

Forgo the ill-conceived penne fiorite, which combines broccoli florets, sun-dried tomatoes and dry pieces of grilled chicken with a garlic-and-oil sauce that just doesn't register. And shrimp fra diavolo with mussels and clams comes up disconcertingly mild.

Instead, go for the benchmark of any self-respecting red sauce restaurant: spaghetti and meatballs, which, here, star plush, well-seasoned spheres. Or the exemplary linguine with white clam sauce, with clams both in and out of their shells.

Portions are gargantuan, so you'll probably leave carrying bags and, maybe, boxes. If you have room for a finale, there's house-made cannoli. And, if you live nearby, consider grabbing a menu on the way out, since, in more ways than one, Mama Mia delivers.


"A Family Pizzeria & Restaurant"

The Best of Spaghetti and Meatballs: Long Island Favorites


Mama Mia, Northport: Chef-owner Augusto Palmieri got his meatball recipe from his grandmother Josephine, who lived in Fondola, a small town near Naples, Italy. The secret to these plush spheres is that they're made with a mixture of three meats -- mostly beef, but also pork and, yes, lamb. Palmieri also soaks stale bread in heavy cream and adds a little bit of bread crumbs, grated Romano cheese, garlic, eggs, salt and pepper. Also, just a tad of chili pepper. They're baked until halfway done and then simmered in tomato sauce before going on top of Barilla spaghetti. Price: $12, three meatballs


Feed Me..... The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

By Joan Reminick

If it's true that the key to success for any neighborhood Italian restaurant is its red sauce, then the new Mama Mia of Northport starts life ahead of the game.

The offshoot of a successful Huntington red-sauce spot, Porto Fino, Mama Mia has a pizza counter on one side, a dine-in space on the other. The night I ate there, one waitress had to handle the entire dining room — no small feat, since every table was taken. And if the food was slow in coming, it at least proved satisfying.

Especially so was a Margherita pizzette, with a crisp, clean-tasting crust and vibrant tomato-mozzarella-basil topping. Vibrancy characterized the chicken parm, as well. But penne fiorite, featuring broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and grilled chicken in garlic and oil, was bland and boring. I have yet to figure out why restaurants continue to include dry grilled white meat chicken pieces in pasta dishes. On the other hand, linguine with clam sauce aced it — just enough garlic, al dente pasta and plenty of clams, both in and out of their shells.