Mamma Mia

The Baberoo and I went out for lunch today with her Gran and Great-Gran at the Summertown branch of Mamma Mia Pizzeria (8 South Parade, OX2 7JL; there’s also a branch in Jericho at 102 Walton Street, OX2 6EB). Family friends have been coming here for over 20 years and I’d heard the pizzas were among the best in Oxford.

I was looking forward to a real Italian stonebaked, thin-crust pizza, and that’s exactly what I got. My Stagioni pizza was generously topped and the smoked ham was particularly tasty. The crust had just the right amount of charring required to impart the best flavour, which is what I look for in an authentic pizza. For pies of this size I am amazed at the price: most pizzas on the menu are £6.95 (including a drink) as part of the Fixed Price Lunch, which runs Monday to Thursday and can also be applied to pasta or salad.  (Mains costing £9.55 and more are charged a £1 supplement during the lunch special. My Stagioni was one of those so my lunch was actually £7.95, but I thought that price was still pretty fabulous.)

Pizza

Pizza is so easy to get wrong that it’s lovely when someone gets it right. But how does Mamma Mia stack up against my five criteria for baby-friendliness? For my reviews I look at menu, space, ambiance, facilities, and feeding. Find out more about my ratings system on my About page.

Menu: Pizza and pasta aren’t the easiest things to eat one-handed while you’re holding a baby, but if you get someone else to slice your pizza for you it’s not that difficult. The pizza at Mamma Mia has a very thin crust, but the top is not soupy like some thin-crust pizzas so it still holds up if you want to eat it with one hand using a libretto fold, pinching the sides in to contain the toppings.  Some of the pastas would be fine to eat while holding a baby in one arm too.

Space: There’s not a huge amount of space between tables, but we managed to get one where I could put the carriage out of the way so I wasn’t obstructing the way for patrons or staff. I did rearrange it a few times because I felt it was perhaps taking up too much space, and if the restaurant had been full I would have had a hard time.  Still, the tables are not as close together as in some other places, and in the summer there’s outdoor seating in front which also looks like it has ample room for a baby carriage or two. I wouldn’t come with my NCT group, however, as the restaurant wouldn’t have room for so many carriages all at once.

Tables

Ambiance: This is a very family-friendly restaurant; many of the patrons were there with children and there were high chairs available for smaller tots. The staff are all very friendly towards babies as well, and talked to the Baberoo a few times (unfortunately, they didn’t get much of a response from her!). The exposed brick walls, checkered tablecloths and wine bottle displays give the place a homey, welcoming atmosphere.

Mirrors

Facilities: To my surprise there was no baby-changing facility, which is a shame since Mamma Mia is such a family-friendly place otherwise. If you live in the Summertown area then you’ll be fine if you can get home again quickly should the need arise, but if you’re visiting the area just for the pizza then you’ll have to have a backup plan for baby-changing.

Feeding: The chairs at Mamma Mia are the cafe-style wooden ones that don’t offer too much support; I decided not to try to feed the Baberoo because neither of us would have been very comfortable. If you can perch on a small chair to feed and your baby isn’t the fussy kind then you’ll be OK.

My final score for Mamma Mia is a 6.5 out of 10; it gets a lower score because of the lack of baby-changing facilities, but the pizzas are well worth going for.

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