Yum Cha Italian style

30 Sep

Generally when you think of yum cha you immediately think of dim sum…but the Roman Greco restaurant from George Calombaris is working hard to change that with their regular Sunday Roman Greco Yum Cha.

I recently went along with family to see what all the fuss was about. Each week Mama Baba is offering a well priced, substantial spread of Italian and Greek favourites served “yum cha” style to share with your family and friends. The menu takes you on a journey through antipasto, assorted pastas, salads with sweet treats to finish.

Mama Baba is located in Daly Street South Yarra, underneath the new Lilli Apartments, in an area of burgeoning growth. The restaurant is very reminiscent of the trendy establishments in the Meatpacking district of New York and has a cool warehouse vibe.  The left hand side of the restaurant pulls focus with a bustling open kitchen, with fresh made pasta drying on racks in the window as you enter. The lounge bar to the right is a nice place to meet for drinks and a DJ adds to the mood by spinning a good mix of new and old soul tracks.

Mama Baba from the outside with its welcoming red and white striped awning

The red and white striped awning of Mama Baba

The sign out front of Mama Baba

Mama Baba

An image of the open kitchen pass where you can see the dishes being finished

The open kitchen allows you to watch dishes as they leave the pass

An image of the restaurant with its high ceilings, long tables and exposed brick work

The open warehouse vibe of the restaurant

An image of a table with the bar in the distance

The well stocked bar at Mama Baba

On this particular Sunday we were treated to freshly baked bread and Tuscan olives to start. With the help of our knowledgeable server we choose a bottle of Italian pinot to accompany our Italian feast. The wine list is extensive and can be a little overwhelming, so we were very appreciative of our lovely Waitress’ recommendation.

Mixed olives in a small silver bowl

Mixed olives to begin

First course consisted of three share plates of salami and pickled eggplant, smoked salmon creme fraiche and capers, and a delicious nutty pearl barley with roast pumpkin and parmesan. It certainly whet our appetites for what was to come.

Salami and pickled eggplant

Salami and pickled eggplant

pearl barley with roast pumpkin and parmesan

Pearl barley with roast pumpkin and parmesan

Smoked salmon creme fraiche and capers

Smoked salmon creme fraiche and capers

As a pre-cursor to the second course we were served a small bowl of piping hot minestrone. This was a pretty good minestrone, full of spring vegetables but was perhaps a little under seasoned.

Minestrone soup with spring vegetables

Minestrone soup with spring vegetables

Second course featured two delicious home-made pastas…one a creamy penne with a delightfully meaty mushroom ragu and the other a fresh cassarecce with fried chickpeas, peas and mint. The home-made pasta was the hero of each dish.

Mushroom ragu with penne

Creamy mushroom ragu with penne

fresh cassarecce with fried chickpeas, peas and mint

Fresh cassarecce with fried chickpeas, peas and mint

As if this wasn’t enough, we then went on to our third course of serious carb loading! A greek style lemon braised chicken with risoni followed by spaghetti amatricana, a traditional pancetta and tomato sauce from Southern Italy. The lemon braised chicken was succulent and refreshing and was a good foil for the rich and complex tomato sugo of the amatricana.

spaghetti amatricana, a traditional pancetta and tomato sauce from Southern Italy

Spaghetti Amatricana, a traditional pancetta and tomato sauce from Southern Italy.

Greek style lemon braised chicken shredded and mixed with risoni

Greek style lemon braised chicken with risoni

With bellies near bursting, we managed to find room for dessert. On the menu was the most delicious creamy honey pannacotta with a cherry and almond crumble followed by little Nutella filled doughy sugar-coated bombaloni. Totally sinful!

Nutella filled doughy sugar-coated bombaloni donuts

Sinfully good…doughy sugar-coated bombaloni bursting with nutella

A small glass jar with creamy honey pannacotta topped with a cherry and almond crumble

So creamy…honey pannacotta with cherry and almond crumble

Such a fabulous way to spend a Sunday…a lazy long lunch spent in good company. Fantastic value too considering you get such a substantial amount of food for only $40 per person. Highly recommend getting along and sharing good food with your family and friends. Here’s to bringing back the Sunday long lunch!

Mama Baba

21 Daly St South Yarra Vic 3141

(03) 9207 7421

Mama Baba on Urbanspoon

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