Far too often the end of the year brings a notable list of our favorite restaurants that have gone away.
Dayton is famous for these lists. Every year we create them. We applaud the new ones and mourn the old ones. For some of us, reminiscing the old spots is akin to showing everyone our old baseball cards. Talking about the old days. The better days. Dayton is especially fond of these lists. I have stories from my early days in politics from Dominic’s on South Main. When I worked for the county it was long lunches at Grubb Steak on North Main where friendships and memories were made.
Everyone has a spot to add to this list. Maybe for you, its the The Parkmoor, Chin’s, or Duke’s Golden Ox.
These places were vintage Dayton and tons memories were made in these spots. That is how I feel about Mamma Disalvo’s today. For more than 4 decades, Mamma and her sons have been serving up Dayton’s best Italian cuisine from a little spot in Kettering.
Mamma’s is a date night place for us. We go there for Valentine’s and anniversaries and those occasions when we have time to sit and enjoy the pace of appetizers and a drink, salad, then dinner and a quiet dessert, all while never feeling rushed.
Mamma’s is a comfort place. The food is homemade, by family, and served like you are family. We keep going back and encouraging our friends to go for two reasons. The first, we don’t want it on the year-end memories list. Second, it’s just really good food and what Vinny, Mamma’s grandson, is doing in the kitchen just feels natural and right.
Vinny recently returned from six months in Italy where he studied his craft, learning to cook authentic Italian food. He trained close to wear his family, generations before, called home. He studied in Italian, taking a crash course upon arrival so he could learn the recipes and techniques in the native language. He returned with a new confidence, new recipes, and some serious bread making skills.
Recently I sat down with friends and enjoyed a chef’s dinner served by Vinny himself. It was if the baton had been handed off insuring Mamma’s was set for another generation. It was course after course of his best stuff, minus the famous meatballs.
The main courses followed, a carbonerra with peas, panchetta, tomatoes, broccoli and an egg sauce that was perfect. Tossing hot pasta with egg is no easy task and Vinny executed flawlessly. My favorite dish made the list and that is the Rigatoni with Vodka sauce. I’ve asked for this sauce to be bottled and sold like Mamma’s marinara and salad dressing to no avail. I just keep ordering.
Vinny surprised us with fresh bread and plate of shrimp scampi. You could smell the butter and garlic 10 feet ahead of the platter. Cooked perfect and balanced with a hint of the white wine added some acidity to cut the rich butter that coated the shrimp.
And then there was dessert and I am thankful he brought half slices. The tiramasu is killer with real espresso and dark chocolate working together in a bitter sweet balance. A great evening, full of sharing, conversation and a meal prepared by family. Mamma’s family. It felt like home.
Small side note: Their pizza is fantastic. Call ahead and pick it up or stop in and enjoy a glass or two of wine with your pizza. You won’t be disappointed.
The search for authentic Italian, in a local, family-owned and prepared, restaurant is over. Mamma’s is it.
Wed-Sat 4 – 9pm
Sun 4 – 8pm