When searching for solid Italian cuisine, you know you have chosen well when the chefs and wait staff can be heard passionately chattering away in Italian on the terrace during their quick break between rushes. It is understandable why Parisiens, and in-the-know tourists alike, are flocking to Mamma Primi, the newest address from Big Mamma Group.
Following from the success of East Mamma and Ober Mamma, Mamma Primi saw its doors open to eager diners, ready to get in on the hype, on the 1st September in the Batignolles district of the 17th arrondissement, just a stone’s throw from Place de Clichy and the Butte Montmartre.
Set on a small neighborhood corner, the restaurant instantly presents as a little piece of (trendy) Tuscan countryside. Large Mediterranean pots housing dense shrubbery define the terrace, which is filled with lime-washed timber tables, clusters of creeping ivy, and copper heating lamps hanging from above. The interior fit-out, designed by London-based AWI, evolves into a modern yet feminine setting with Art Déco references. The focal point is the open kitchen, which is framed by brass shelves displaying the comprehensive range of wines, and topped with illuminated glass bottles filled with dramatic greenery. Marble is of course the material of choice for surfaces, with Carrara and Verona in tones of blue, green, and white running throughout. Dark hardwood booths and dining chairs are intimately arranged, and offset by cool blush pink and blue upholsteries.
Enzo Pezzella and Ciro Cristiano head up the Mamma Primi kitchen. Their carefully created menu offers a wide range of traditional dishes, all highlighting quality ingredients sourced directly from Italian producers. Of note from the antipasti sharing plates are the arancini al ragu (8€) with saffron rice and meat enveloping the mozzarella centers, and the pizzetta aux 4 fromages et poire (11€) topped with pear, walnut, and radish. Also look out for the generous servings of charcuterie and burrata, served on vintage ceramics with traditional Mediterranean floral motifs.
For larger portions, a selection of Napoletana wood-fired pizzas are available (from 12€), however the focus is on the primi piatti, the first course of pasta. All of Mamma Primi’s pasta and gnocchi are lovingly handcrafted in-house by Stella di Viesto. Gnocchi de la mer (14€) offers a light, fresh option of mussels, onion, zucchini, and tarragon; for something heartier on cooler days, try the cannelloni lapin lapine (14€): tender chunks of rabbit with artichokes, ricotta, and Sicilian orange zest, served in its cast iron baking dish.
Wine lovers will also be pleased to discover an extensive list of over 150 wines, with a focus on those sourced from the Tuscany and Piedmont regions of Italy. The cocktail list does not fall short either. Shaken by Alberto Sinibaldi, traditional apéritivo and signature gin & tonics are accompanied by more unique bar creations (from 8€).
Now a few months into the new venture, Mamma Primi is showing no signs of slowing down, evidenced by the patrons that line up in the chilly evenings to secure a table (the restaurant does not take reservations). So, if you are keen to head along, it would be advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment, or simply visit for lunch.
Mamma Primi – 71 rue des Dames, 75017. Métro: Rome. Tel: +33 (0)1 47 42 33 31. Mon-Thurs 12:15pm-2:30pm, 7pm-10:45pm. Fri-Sun 12:15pm-2:30pm, 7pm-11pm.
- For a comprehensive guide to eating, drinking, and shopping in the Batignolles area, check out Les Batignolles‘ website.
- David Lebovitz shares his favorite epicerie in Paris for directly imported Italian products here.
- Earlier this year, The New York Times shared some of their top picks for Italian restaurants in Paris.