You always knew that Mama wanted you to take care of yourself and eat well. At this hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the East Village of Manhattan, you can get a healthy serving of good food prepared just the way your mother would want it to be. This may sound like an advertising claim but it is actually an accurate description of what you find at Mama’s Food Shop.
Located on 3rd Street between Avenues A and B, Mama’s was a recommendation from our friend Biing during our visit to New York last summer. Biing’s list of recommendations was too long to complete on our last visit, so we used this trip to check a few more items off it.
Arriving to our midtown hotel, the Affinia Dumont on 34th Street, on a rainy and cool Monday evening, we needed somewhere easy for dinner but didn’t want to take a chance on the unknown restaurants in the Murray Hill neighborhood that surrounds the hotel. We hopped a taxi down to Alphabet City.
The funky decor is shabby-chic with Christmas lights on one wall and portraits of mothers on the other.
The floor is wooden, the seating eclectic and unassigned (table sharing is common), and the smell of frying chicken permeates the space and your clothing.
The efficient kitchen turns out five mains each at $12 a plate with one side: fried chicken, roast chicken, roast pork shoulder, meatloaf, and pan-seared tilapia. The sides include simple yet satisfying dishes such as mac and cheese, roasted beets, broccoli and garlic, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. Additional sides are $1 for an extra serving or you can buy them to-go in half-pint and pint quantities.
So a main with two sides works out to $13 – not overly expensive but not quite a bargain, either, until you consider the quantity and quality.
My plate of roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and beets was huge – three pieces of chicken and a week’s worth of beets.
Tawn’s tilapia (they also do a veggie plate composed of three sides for $11) included two large fillets to go with the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Flavors were consistently good although the sides were not piping hot – possibly due to my picture taking.
All in all, Mama’s does right by their customers, including a 10% dinner discount for students. The food is simple, healthy, and generous. Next time I think we’ll skip on the extra sides and maybe even share a plate.