Food review

Week 36: Mama Baba


George Calombaris is a busy man. His latest project is Mama Baba in South Yarra – a Greco Italian fusion style restaurant where pasta is the signature. When I heard George was opening a pasta focused restaurant, I was hoping and praying a bolognese would grace their kitchen. I was shattered when no such thing lived on the menu when they first opened earlier this year.

Low and behold, come their Winter menu Bucatini (tubular spaghetti) Bolognese with crumbed bone marrow appeared. I was curious to try George’s take on Bolognese, and excited about the bone marrow quirk.

I hadn’t yet tried Bolognese with Bucatini, and I quite liked it. It’s slightly thicker than spaghetti and with the hollow centre it gave the already al dente pasta an extra bit of bounce.

The presentation, clean. The falvour, wonderful. The texture, heaven. The crumbed ball you see on the fork is one of the bone marrow crumbs scattered throughout the dish. This was the real highlight for me – the crunchy exterior followed by this incredible flavoured pocket of awesome on its inside, so succulent it dissolved before I knew it. It complimented the texture of the pasta perfectly – the crunch of the marrow crumble mixed in with the chew of the bucatini – POW.

The flavour of the Bolognese was also great. A complex rich flavour which was beautifully balanced. It tipped toward the more tomato end of the spectrum. The sauce had the right viscosity and coated the pasta exceptionally. The downfall was the sparsity of bolognese clumps – it was so delicious I really wanted to have whole chunkfulls of meat, but found them hard to come by. Overall however, it was a rather special Bolognese.

Price: $27
Score: 16+

Note: Note: dishes which score 16+ are contenders for the title of Melbourne’s best Spaghetti Bolognese. All scores above 16/20 will be disclosed at the end of the year long taste testing once the winner is revealed in September 2012.

BOLOGNESE SIDE DISH:

Mama Baba offer an Arancini of Bolognese and mashed potato as a starter ($5.50). How could I resist?


This tasty little morsel of Bolognese combined with fluffy potato encased in a perfectly crusted ball was rather delightful, though a little bit dense and dry. Missing was some oozing gooey cheese in the centre – mozzarella or gruyere would have gone down a treat. This dish reminded me of a recent guest post I did for Milk Bar. The post was about Bolognese dishes varying from pasta such as a bolognese pie, parmigiana and pizza. You can read all about it here.

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