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Big Mamma’s Boy – Restaurant Review

September 6, 2010

My parents graciously offered to spend (or rather sacrifice) their Friday afternoon to help us around our new house.  Six hours of labour passed and the hunger kicked in.  Too exhausted to cook and too disheveled to be seen in public, we all agreed to have dinner brought to us.  The least I could do was treat my parents to a meal of their choice.  Pizza was the consensus.   No surprise coming from two Italians.

Selfishly, this was my opportunity to try one of the restaurants on my Gluten-Free hit list –  Big Mamma’s Boy.  It was a win-win.  The Italians get their beloved pizza and I get to stick to my diet (sort of…read on). 

LOCATION: 554 Parliament Street, Toronto, ON (in Cabbagetown)

THE MENU:

An almost exclusive gluten-free menu is not the only aspect that differentiates Big Mamma’s Boy.  They also support local farmers by featuring naturally raised or organic meats, vegetables, and dairy as much as possible.  I’ve been searching for locavore and/or organic restaurants in Toronto and they are few and far between.   Big Mamma’s is a one-stop shop offering the above PLUS gluten-free and dairy-free options for the diet restricted.  Although, the name might lead you to believe otherwise.   

The menu includes a few appetizers ranging from $5 to $15.  The gluten-free mac & cheese was the only one that tempted me.  If you really like it, you can go for the entree size.  Other mains include vegetarian and beef burgers (naturally raised of course) and smothered chicken, all priced between $13 to $25.  Then comes the pizza – the draw for us.  Big Mamma highlights ten of their own creations and also gives you the flexibility to design your own.   A 6 slice signature pizza will run you $20.  If you opt for gluten-free crust, be prepared to fork out another $4. 

THE ORDER:

We decided to go with 2 varieties of pizza and another Italian staple, lasagna.  Both pizzas were medium with 6 decent-sized slices.  They can’t accommodate anything larger with gluten-free crust.  Not sure why that is.  

  • Big Mamma Pizza ($20) –  I’ll forgo the ranking out of 10 on this one. Read on to understand why.  Description read “topped with grilled chicken, goat’s cheese, pesto, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes”.   I wish I could say this pizza was everything I had hoped for and worth every single penny.   I hate to be the buzz killer but the reverse is more accurate.  The crust was rock hard likely because it was overcooked – burnt edges gave it away.  I had a similar experience with Pizza Pizza’s gluten-free crust so it wasn’t a complete surprise.   To my parents on the other hand, this was blasphemy!  My father was the first to try it.  He patiently and politely struggled his way through his first (and last) slice.  When he topped it with the lasagna I knew there was a problem.  I took a bite and was surprised my dad’s teeth were still in tact.

Let’s assume the crust was edible.  I still would have been a bit disappointed (just a bit).   I was anxious to try the pesto but as you can tell from the photo, there’s not a spec of green on the pizza.  I’ll chalk this up to a miscommunication on my end with all the modifications.   I tried to ignore the dense crust between my teeth to enjoy the flavours – I think this would have been tasty and deserves another try.

All that said, Big Mamma does deserve some credit.   I informed them that the pizza was inedible and given their response, this was a common occurrence.  They immediately offered us a complimentary pizza on our next order, no questions asked.  The manager encouraged us to ask for a slightly under-done crust in the future.  I recommend you do this as well.  The result is more pleasant…

  • Our own pizza creation ($20) –  Much better.  A 7 out of 10.  We went with my parent’s suggestions which was tomato, mushroom, broccoli and anchovies on gluten-free crust (my only contribution).   Most people cringe at the sight and sound of anchovies (same reaction we had to brussels sprouts as kids).  Truth is, the saltiness is a desirable addition to pizza.  Try it. 

The thin crust was topped with lots of sauce which I prefer.  This combination means that eating the pizza out of your hand held is a messy ordeal.  It’s a little softer (some might say ‘soggy’) and is meant to be eaten with a fork and knife.  Given that the first pizza (with limited cheese) was a no go I ‘had to’ steal a few slices of this one douced with mozzarella.   I was kicking myself afterwards when I noticed rice milk mozzarella was an option. 

 

  • Vegetarian Lasagna ($16) –  Gets a 6 out of 10.  This was the first gluten-free lasagna I’d come across in Toronto.  I was prepared to fall off the ‘dairy-free’ wagon to try it.  When the delivery arrived it took me a few seconds to decipher what I was staring at.  The photo captures the moment for you.  In fairness, it was probably shifting around in the back of the delivery guy’s car.  I’m sure it is better presented at the restaurant.  Anyhow, taste is what really matters.   If you like cheese and sauce, you’d enjoy this.  My nonna (Italian grandma) would hit me with a wooden spoon for saying this, but the sauce reminded me of her sugo pomodoro (homemade tomato sauce).   Personally, I expected a bigger portion being from “Big Mamma’s” and would have liked to see a few more veggies.  

THE DAMAGE:

“Damage” is the appropriate word to use here.  The order-taker didn’t relay the final bill amount to me over the phone – a smart move.  I might have changed my mind or shaved off a few items to get the dollar figure to a more tolerable number.   I gasped when the delivery guy greeted me with the words “That will be $74 please”.   I just about fell over and was tempted to take the delivery guy down with me.  But he was ‘just the messenger’ and too sweet to be abused.  I handed over $80 (now realizing I may have over-tipped in my state of shock) then made my way back to the kitchen thinking “Damn, this meal better blow my socks off“.   Had the crust been edible and the lasagna more substantial, I would have been more comfortable making this investment to Big Mamma’s Boy. 

YOU SHOULD ORDER IF:

  • You’ll remember to request that the pizza be slightly undercooked (if ordering gluten-free). 
  • You are passionate about supporting local farmers and organic farming practices.
  • You’re gluten-free, dairy-free and a pizza fanatic. 

Big Mamma's Boy on Urbanspoon

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Leigh permalink
    September 7, 2010 11:30 pm

    I kinda hate to admit it because I hate going here but… The gluten- free pizza at Boston Pizza was pretty awesome. I don’t think they deliver downtown tho 😦

Trackbacks

  1. Second time is a charm – Big Mamma’s Boy « Me. Myself. And Food
  2. Big Mamma's Boy – Restaurant Review « Me. Myself. And Food | Monterey Reviews

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