It’s rare I get my best friend, Lindsey, to myself these days. She’s a new mom to a darling little diva, Emerson. A professional chef and successful career woman, she’s currently launching a line of prepared healthy meals to-go that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and chemical-free. They’re currently available at Tone House, New York’s hardest fitness class, branded under Tone House Fuel. I’m obsessed with both—Tone House is by far and away the hardest workout class I’ve ever done, and the meals are hearty, healthy takes on my favorite comfort foods. I try to avoid dairy and gluten during the week—but I hate being hungry.
We needed a proper catch-up that did not involve rushing in and out of a fitness class, so we scheduled dinner at Mamo, a classic New York Italian spot just off Canal Street in SoHo. We’d been invited in to try Mamo, as Executive Chef Salvatore Marcello just launched his new menu.
Originally from Naples, Italy, Salvatore was born into a family of cooks and bakers, igniting his passion for food at an early age. Since leaving home at the age of 13 to attend the Scuola Alberghiera in Formia, Lazio, Salvatore has experienced an illustrious career in some of Europe’s foremost kitchens, most recently as the executive chef at il Vero at the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva. After perusing his new menu, I was eager to enjoy a long, leisurely meal of Italian fare and red wine.
The restaurant exudes old New York style: It’s a two-floor restaurant in a charming brick building with vintage sconces and artwork on the walls. We were seated on the second floor, where the tables were dressed in white tablecloths and the room lit in low lighting and candles. This is the sort of place visitors and grandparents go to celebrate anniversaries. It’s the authentic New York rendition of Italian restaurants.
We decided on the Montepulciano, a smooth berry-forward, full-bodied red. It was so good we had multiple glasses. The service was impeccable—water, wine, and French bread were at the ready at all times.
The current dinner menu is heavy on the truffles and the pumpkin, both of which make my heart happy. There’s a black truffle pasta, a black truffle risotto, as well as a cacio e pepe risotto that looks divine.
We began with the burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil. It was a classic take on the Italian appetizer, crafted with fresh ingredients. We also shared the calamari, which is a popular appetizer at the restaurant. Rather than fried rounds as you’d expect, the calamari was strips of baked octopus dressed in an olive oil and pesto. It was yummy, but not terribly memorable. Certainly a dish I enjoyed but not something I’ll remember for days to come.
We both ordered baked white fish dishes—healthy routines are hard to break. The baked truffle halibut for me, and the baked for Linds. The waiter told me my dish was served over the truffle risotto, which I had also been eyeing. Unfortunately, it was not, which was a bummer, as I do like some starches and carbs to fill me up. That said, the fish was beautiful—delicate and moist, it pulled apart easily with a fork. The fish was baked atop a baked fondue of truffles and onions, which ended up being very savory together.
Lindsey’s baked cod was served atop an heirloom tomato and green bean puttanesca. It was a good cut of fish, with fresh vegetables, and well-executed.
We concluded with two desserts and limoncello—it’s girls’ night, after all. The peaches and cream was absolutely divine: fresh baked peaches topped with massive dollops of a sweet whipped marscapone and sliced almonds. I normally prefer hearty, decadent desserts over those with fruit, but this was just too good to resist.
Meanwhile, the slice of chocolate cake whisked to our table was utterly enormous. Again, this was a very classic interpretation of chocolate cake: standard layer cake of chocolate on chocolate, topped with raspberries. It was a bit bland, to be honest, but it was fluffy enough —and I was tipsy enough—to go back for multiple bites.
All in all, I will definitely keep Mamo on the short list when I find myself craving Italian, or I need a classic restaurant for less adventurous diners.
323 W. Broadway
New York, NY