It is life's stories that make a place alive and Mama Martino's is energized with real, heartfelt, tender love stories. Sitting across from me was Bruno Martino. His family and his staff shine with a brightness that reaches down to your heart and soul. Never in my life have I heard so many testimonials about what a restaurant has meant to so many people.
We were sitting beside an enormous set of life-size ghouls, goblins, skeletons and scary moving body parts. Families that have found Mama Ma
rtino's and it became a huge part of their weekly adventure. The Martino family has been doing this for more than 20 years.
Alicia Kay of CTV sat at the next table. She has been a weekly visitor for many years.
A couple with a newly adopted baby made Mama Martino's their second home. Everyone said the same things - great staff, family friendly, reasonable prices, and of course, fantastic food.
Everyone loves the food and I can see why. The calamari is crispy and bursting with flavour. Mussels are served in a rich sauce that you scoop up with bread to make sure none gets left behind.
The bruschetta is definitely a good friend of garlic. Hail Mama: you got this one just right. The veal parmigiana is a steal for only $9.25. Let everybody else at other places eat burgers for that price. Here you eat veal.
All the sandwiches are homemade and, despite the fact they are piled high with fillings, they are all under five dollars.
Pasta is what Mama has been doing for 20 years. Try the Gnocchi A La Mama Martino. If one thing Mama knows it is how to make great gnocchi. Lasagna, cheese cannelloni, and linguini with meat balls are all dishes that will keep you thinking about Mama Martino's whenever you think about pasta.
Mama also makes pizza fit for Italian royalty. The crust is superb. The toppings are more than generous. But it is the aromatic sauce that makes this pizza special. Rich and thick and spicy, this is how pizza should always be made.
Something happens when people enter Mama Martino's. Maybe it is Bruno, who greets everyone with such warmth. Or perhaps it is Jordanna Bennett, who has served us for the past 10 years - it is always a joy to see her.
The stars all feel it too and Mama's has fed the likes of Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy from The Sopranos) Tie Domi, George Chevallo, and Mats Sundin.
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
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