Last Friday was a night meant for a Mama’s Too slice (or two). The Chef was out with a friend seeing our favorite jazz organist Akiko Tsuruga. In fact, when I ran into friend Ron, he apologized for taking my husband from me on a Friday night. “No, take him!” I urged, “I’m actually really looking forward to my evening alone.” “OK, then I’m going to ask for $15/hour and cab money” Ron joked.
For the long-married, times when a spouse is out are much-longed for. Before we were empty nesters, I relished cooking solo for the kids when the Chef travelled for work—not cowed by the Chef’s high standards and freed from his insistence on three course meals. I had certain go-to “Dad-away” dishes, and we also watched TV all through dinner, a taboo for the Chef.
This past Friday I’d had a productive writing session at the green table, swam forty laps at my health club and felt I deserved to treat myself to a take-in dinner for my date night with myself. I decided on the new Sicilian pizza spot everyone on the upper Upper West Side (above 96th st.) has been raving about. Along with Italian staples like pastas and panini, Mama’s Too offers bountiful square Sicilian pizzas on high, puffy focaccia-type crust as well as the thin Neapolitan pies, but a foodie friend I trust told us to only order the Sicilian style slabs ($4.50/ea). The decision to go Sicilian dovetailed with a new Sicilian infatuation of mine: the mystery series by Andrea Camilleri, featuring Inspector Salvatore Montalbano, whose devotion to solving crimes is equalled by his devotion to eating simply and well:
The water was boiling, so he put in the pasta. The telephone rang. He had a moment of hesitation, unsure whether to answer or not. He was afraid the call might last too long: it might not be so easy to cut it short, and that would jeopardize the proper al dente texture of the spaghetti. It would be a disaster to waste the coral sauce on a dish of overcooked pasta. He decided not to answer. In fact, to prevent the ringing from troubling the serenity of spirit indispensable to savoring the sauce in full, he pulled out the plug. – Andrea Camilleri, Voice of the Violin
I think the Inspector would have liked to come home to a mushroom and sausage slice or a spinach ricotta one, after a difficult day faking a Mafia stakeout or evading the advances of the attractive officer from the Montelusa Flying Corp. While the small space with bright red metal stools, a granite counter and vintage Italian photos is attractive, I brought these slices home to heat up and savor with a glass of Italian Salice Salentino Cantele (2014) and a salad of arugula and avocado while I read Camilleri’s The Terracotta Dog. Because swimming laps makes me so ravenous, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to note all the nuances of the mushroom sausage and spinach ricotta pizzas. Only that each slice was generously heaped with cheese and toppings ( a little too light on the sausage though). And also that each slice, while utterly satisfying, was more oily and less fresh tasting--perhaps a little over-baked-- than the thinner, but still fluffy-crusted slices of the Roman style, My Pie. Still, Mama’s Too is only six blocks away, and there are many more varieties to try. I have a feeling its offerings will be regular fare on date nights—just me and Inspector Salvatore Montalbano; I think the quality is up to his exacting standards.
2750 Broadway (btw 105th & 106th Sts.)