There are many expectations when dining out in a fine restaurant. We all expect quality food as we are paying quality prices. We also anticipate a more professional and pleasant experience from our server and his or her assistant. Some people can forgive one over the other while others expect perfection from both. After a long, arduous day in the hospitality industry, I would have been ecstatic with mediocre food, so long as the service was ‘top notch’. This week, I was fortunate to find perfection in both food and service at Ristorante Mama Gina’s in Palm desert.
Arriving earlier than our reservation, my guest and I decided to enjoy a cocktail at the bar. As we entered the restaurant, we noticed the dining room was on one side while the ‘Enoteca Bar’ was on the opposite side. Providing a separate experience altogether, the Enoteca Bar offers an extensive happy hour menu all evening. We were able to take the only two empty seats at the counter and were immediately greeted by Jen, our beautiful, smiling bartender. She made us feel so welcomed that we ordered an Antipasto appetizer with an assortment of meats with parmesan, artichoke hearts and marinated olives. It was delicious and certainly had our appetites eager for more!
In the dining room, our server, Jose, was quick to greet us with a smile and share with us what to expect at Mama Gina’s. Finally, great service from a true professional! We began with an order of steamed mussels and clams in a white wine garlic sauce that had so much flavor, we had to order more bread to soak up the delicious broth! I ordered a chicken dish (which I do not normally do when I dine out) that was stuffed with artichokes, prosciutto and fresh herbs. The flavor was intense and the chicken was tender. Accompanied by crispy pan-seared potatoes and sautéed spinach, my meal was complete. My guest ordered the Veal Saltimbocca: Veal scaloppine topped with San Daniele prosciutto and fresh sage, finished with a white wine sauce. We paired our entrees with a bottle of Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay that perfectly complimented our selections.
Our server was not just attentive, he was truly perfect! I did not have to pour a drop of wine or ask for utensils and his timing was impeccable. It was the dream dining experience I had prayed for. Jose presented a dessert cart with many Italian classics but we enjoyed a slice of chocolate cheesecake that was made special for the evening. I cannot express enough how wonderful this experience was. I look forward to sharing this place with friends.
If you get the chance to have dinner at Ristorante Mama Gina’s, you must say, “hi” to Jen in the bar and see someone who genuinely loves what she does (and does it well). Try the famous happy hour where you can decide from soups, salads, pastas and classic Italian appetizers. The Enoteca Bar opens daily at 4:00pm and serves until closing. Dinner service begins at 4:30pm and reservations are recommended. Ristorante Mama Gina’s is located at 73-705 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260 or you can visit their website: www.mamagina.com