By Denise Ortuno
For some seriously delizioso Italian dishes, at equally delizioso prices, nothing can compare with the All Day Happy Hour at Mamma Gina’s in Palm Desert.
Known as one of El Paseo’s best dining spots, Ristorante Mamma Gina has been dazzling desert foodies, before “foodies” were a thing, back in 1986. With authentic Italian dishes, inspired by their anchor ristorante in Florence, Mamma Gina has ranked high with excellent food and service to match. Their main dining room is classic high end Italian, while still remaining warm and inviting, perfect for intimate dining for two, or for larger parties wanting to have the Mamma Gina experience.
On the other side of the restaurant sits their bar area, and that’s where the All Day Happy Hour magic happens. It’s somewhat strange having that kind of extended happy hour at a restaurant of Mamma Gina’s caliber, but it’s for certain that the extended hour is to satisfy the public demand of what is probably the most popular happy hour in Palm Desert. The elongated happy hour runs from 11:30am to 9:30pm on the weekdays, and until 10pm on the weekends (Sunday’s 4pm to 9:30pm).
The happy hour isn’t ultra-inexpensive, you’re not going to find $2 or $4 items, its Mamma Gina’s for goodness sake, and remember, it’s on El Paseo. However, you will find amazing Italian dishes from appetizes to salads, to main entrée’s, at pretty wonderful prices for the quality of food that you’re receiving. Well drink prices hover at under $6 as well as their house wines, which again, is a great deal for the area.
On my recent visit, my boyfriend and I took our little seats at the end of the bar, a coveted cozy nook that I search out when I’m there. We ordered a couple of glasses of house cab, and when asked if we wanted bread, well…of course please! The bread is lovely Italian ciabatta, and is served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We then shared a Cesare salad, which is always served crisp and cold, with beautifully shaved parmesan. Afterwards, it was pasta time, Cannelloni “Fiorentina” (crepe stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, topped with tomato and cream sauce) for me, and Linguine Puttanesca (capers, garlic, black olive, and hint of anchovy in a tomato sauce) for my boyfriend. Both dishes, under $10 each. The Cannelloni is simply dreamy, it’s so light and velvety, and I get it every time that I’m there. The Puttanesca, is zesty, with full throttle flavors led by the garlic and that hint of anchovy. We usually finish off by having the Petite Filet Mignon with sautéed spinach and mushrooms, but I think we had too much bread and had to put it on the back burner until our next visit (darn that bread!).
For dessert, their Crème Brulee is a must! It’s like an endless bowl of custard love, topped with a crackling caramel lid…its crazy good!
There are so many other dishes to explore at Mamma Gina’s, and whether you’re there for the All Day Happy Hour, or just relaxing in the main dining room, it will be sure to be a delizioso and happy time.
Ristorante Mamma Gina is located at 73-705 El Paseo, Palm Desert Ca, 92260
For more information visit www.mammagina.com