Category Archives: Food

The Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

For my next tasting experience, I head back to Downtown Vero once again and to The Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen!  It seems like just yesterday that the VB American Bar & Grill was there, and in the blink of an eye, the sign changed and the new one for this place went up.  Once the word got out about Mama Mia’s, the questions started flooding in.  Is this the same place that was open in Sebastian many years ago?  I’m happy to report that the family recipes and lineage are the same, just with new ownership.  For the full story of Mama Mia’s history, be sure to check out the back of the menu when you dine with them.

Located on 14th Avenue in the corner between Main Street Jewelers and Baci Trattoria is Vero’s newest Italian restaurant.  Subtle changes were done to the interior due to the quick change over, but they did add a lattice wall with green vine through it to divide the room, most of the tables and booths were used with a few changes to the configuration, and they added white tablecloths with glass tops on all the tables.  The bar and TV’s that were there previously have remained.  They still share the patio with Baci, but they don’t open until well after Baci has closed, so there is no overlap.  Most of the businesses in the plaza are also closed or closing shortly after Mama Mia’s opens, so most of the parking lot will be available to their customers.

 

Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!

Escargot in Phyllo Cup – ($8.95) – I have fond memories of a dish that used to be offered at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival in the France pavilion that this one reminded me of, so I had to try it.  The escargot was placed in the phyllo cups, topped with a garlic butter sauce, then baked until golden brown.  The escargot was very tender and almost disintegrated with the flakiness of the phyllo cup when I took a bite.  The garlic butter sauce was just enough to coat and not overwhelm the dish.

Mozzarella en Carozza – ($8.95) – With such a fancy sounding name in Italian, I was not sure what to expect since it translates in English to just a mozzarella cheese sandwich.  Fresh mozzarella cheese is sandwiched between two slices of bread and the “sandwich” is then coated with seasoned flour, dipped in an egg wash and fried until golden brown.  Marinara sauce can be served over the top or alongside.  The outside of the bread had a light crunch, while the inside was soft and gooey from the cheese.  The marinara has just the right amount of sweet verses tartness from the tomatoes.  It was so good!

Twisted Caesar Salad – ($7.95) – I was curious as to what makes it “twisted”, so we ordered it to find out.  From the description, it’s a typical Caesar salad with the addition of fresh mushrooms and bacon.  The lettuce was nice and crisp and was not overdressed.  The addition of the mushrooms and bacon added some additional texture, but only a minimal smokiness from the bacon.

Momma Mia Fiesta Platter – ($18.95) – Since this was our first time here, I thought that ordering the sampler platter would be a good idea to try several of the dishes they offer at one time.  This platter includes an eggplant rolatini, ravioli, meatball, sausage, and penne.  All were topped with their house-made marinara sauce.  The meatball, made with only ground beef, was seasoned nicely and quite tender.  The sausage was quite bold in flavor but just a little too “herby” for my tastes.  The ravioli had a generous amount of filling and was cooked al dente.  The true star on this plate was the eggplant rolatini.  I’ve tried several around town at other restaurants, but this one steals the show.  The eggplant was roasted, then rolled up with seasoned ricotta cheese, topped with mozzarella, and baked until golden brown.  It was very tender and easy to cut through with a fork, yet still had a little chew to it which was nice.  Flavor was spot on and it was a table favorite!

Veal Parmigiana – ($19.95) – As one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes, I was happy to see this on the menu.  Portion size is HUGE!  I would compare this to the size of a chicken breast you get at Fresh Market.  Being as thick as it was, I really expected it to be a bit tough as I had read in a previous review by a local newspaper. I had preconceived expectations, but to my surprise, it was anything but.  It was perfectly seasoned and very tender.  The sauce served on the side was their meat sauce and it was delicious.  A side of spaghetti with marinara was served alongside.

Tiramisu – ($5.95) – While not necessarily one of my favorite Italian desserts, it is one that we have not had very often during my reviews, so we decided to order it.  Portion size was very generous and could easily be shared, it also had just the right amount of sweetness after such a savory meal.  The ladyfingers were perfectly tender and did not have much alcohol flavor which was nice because that is one of the reasons why this is not a favorite of mine.  It was a nice way to round out our Italian meal!

In Conclusion:

I had heard they had a rough start when they first opened and their review from 32963 confirmed some of what I had heard.  I’m happy to report that my experience was much better than expected for a place that had only been open for a short while.  I usually like to let the “new” wear off a bit and let them get in their groove, but I was anxious to see what all the hype was about.  The food was quite good and very fresh.  You can tell most, if not everything is house-made.  The atmosphere was somewhat like the previous tenant since some of it was reused, but they did add some nice touches to make it more of a fine dining establishment.  If you love Italian food as much as I do, then I suggest you go give these guys a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Original Mama Mia’s Kitchen Facebook Page

Address1920 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960
 
Hours of Operation:  Wednesday – Thursday, 4:30pm – 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday, 4:30pm – 10:00pm, and Sunday – Monday, 4:30pm – 9:00pm, Closed on Tuesdays
 
 

Vero Beach Food Wine & Music Event 2018

In case you missed it, over the Presidents Day weekend was the inaugural year for The Vero Beach Food Wine & Music event.  The brainchild of Fe Domenech of The Event Firm International, she became inspired to figure out a way to pay it forward on more than just one level.  Six deserving local and national charities were selected to benefit from this event.  The charities were the American Cancer Society, Hibiscus Children’s Center, One Lagoon, H.A.L.O No Kill Animal Rescue, United Against Poverty, and The Source.   With her extensive experience producing large successful events not only for her own business, she also helped produce what is now known as SOBE (South Beach Miami Food & Wine) and Pebble Beach Food & Wine events.  This event is the first of its kind for our area and it was marketed nationally with top name talent in the industry.  On the entertainment side of the event was Matteo Bocelli, the son of the famous opera singer, Andrea Bocelli, who flew in from Italy for the Friday night opening concert.  On Saturday night, four amazing celebrity chefs, two of which were from the TV show on Fox called MasterChef.  Chef Graham Elliot and Season 7 Winner, Chef Shaun O’Neale were here, and Chef Alex Thomopolous, a stand-up comedian turned chef has made appearances on MTV and the Hallmark channel.  Finally, is Chef Christi Ferretti, a Vero Beach native who is the owner of Pine Valley Market in Wilmington, NC area. 

The event kicked off a day early on Thursday evening with the Fire & Ice VIP cocktail party at Costa de Este.  Guests got to mingle with the celebrity chef’s in attendance and hear a little about each benefiting charity.  Friday night was the Matteo Bocelli concert, Saturday night was the VIP Dining Experience with culinary demonstrations by each celebrity chef, and the event came to a close on Sunday with an event called Pups & Pino, a fashion show for cancer survivors and animals from H.A.L.O’s shelter.  In addition, a Sunday Brunch Tasting Pavilion was featured with local restaurants serving up some of their amazing dishes to the event’s guests.  Chef Alex Thomopolous was featured once again for a demonstration of her famous chicken sandwich, and Chef Christi Ferretti created a dish that you and your pet could enjoy together in the Bark Bistro that was also a part of the Tasting Pavilion.

 

As an assistant producer of the event, I can tell you that it was a lot of hard work to pull off this event.  I believe we gave our guests a first-class guest experience that was second to none.  Fe has dedicated her life to this event for the last two years and poured her heart and soul into it.  The production team is already thinking of next year’s event and planning for it will be underway shortly.  It will be bigger and better than ever, so stay tuned for The Vero Beach Food Wine & Music event in 2019, you don’t want to miss it!

Station 49 Pizza – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

For my next tasting experience, I head over to Vero’s newest, and the only wood-fired pizza place that I’m aware of in town called Station 49.  Located in what was once known as Garage Pizza, Station 49 has only been open for a few months.  I’ve been hearing wonderful things from our foodie group about it, so I could not wait to check them out for myself.

Located in the 1800 block of Old Dixie Hwy, they are not that far off the beaten path of downtown shops and restaurants.  Owners, Jay and Joan McLaughlin have been dreaming about owning a pizza place of their own for a while now.  When Jay’s longtime Executive Chef Dino from Island Restaurant in New York was looking to move to a beach town in Florida, they jumped at the opportunity to try this new concept with him.   If the McLaughlin name sounds familiar, they also own a clothing store and Citron Bistro located a short distance north of Vero on A1A.  Parking was better than expected for a small place like this and the lot was not too full even though the restaurant was.  From what I remember about Garage Pizza, the interior has been greatly improved and is contemporary, yet with a few modern touches.  The space was very comfortable and they have a few different seating options depending on your preferences.  Sitting at the bar is always an excellent choice if you like to watch an active kitchen and see your food being made in front of your eyes.

Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!

Arancini – ($9.00) – While they might have a strange name, and even if you cannot pronounce them, just point to it on the menu and order them, because they are delicious!  They start with a cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle, then wrap it with risotto rice, then it’s coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried till golden brown.  San Marzano tomato dipping sauce was served alongside.  They are a little larger than a golf ball and have this wonderful crunchy and cheesy flavor.  The dipping sauce was light, flavorful, and a little bit sweet.

Chopped Kale – ($12.00) – Kale is not usually a favorite for most people (including me), but what Chef Dino does with this one might be just short of a miracle.  The kale is chopped finely and tossed with strawberries, avocado, toasted almonds, quinoa, shaved pecorino cheese, and dressed with a citrus-poppy vinaigrette dressing.  Kale can tend to be bitter, but I did not detect any bitterness in this salad at all.  It was light, fresh and quite delicious.

Cavatelli Sausage + Broccoli – ($16.00) – Such simple ingredients, yet they work so well together.  Cavatelli pasta was mixed with chunks of sausage, broccoli, then tossed in a garlic white wine sauce.  The pasta was cooked al dente, the sausage was bold and flavorful, and the white wine sauce had the perfect balance of flavor to bring this dish together.  Most of my regular readers know I’m not a fan of broccoli, but it only added a subtle flavor and texture to the dish, so I was able to still enjoy it even though I’m not a fan.

The Works – ($16.00) – FINALLY, a pizza place in Vero that uses crumbled sausage!  As someone who has lived in the mid-west for most of my life, I’ve never seen so much “sliced” sausage on a pizza until I moved south.  It’s very hard to find a place that uses crumbled sausage, so I was thrilled to see they do.  Hand-tossed to approximately 11”, their pizza has a very thin crust which allows it to cook within minutes. This one has crispy pepperoni, sweet sausage, Grande mozzarella cheese, and San Marzano tomato sauce.  The crust was light and crispy, the sausage was wonderful, and it had just the right amount of smoke flavor from the wood-fired oven.  I can’t wait to go back and have another one!

Donut Holes – ($6.00) –  We wrap up our tasting experience with a little bit of dessert.   After the fantastic food we were just served, these were a bit of a letdown for me.  Appearance wise they looked to be over-fried but inside the cake was light and fluffy.  They were served with chocolate and caramel sauces but the dusting of powdered sugar was the perfect amount of sweetness for me.  They were good, don’t get me wrong, they just lacked the wow factor I’m always looking for, especially after what we already tasted. 

In Conclusion:

Did I forget to mention that they use “crumbled” sausage on their pizza’s?  Ok, so I said it already, but I think it deserves another mention because it’s so hard to find in Vero.  Their wood-fired pizza oven is 16 years old and imparts a wonderful, yet only slightly smoky flavor to the crust from the oak and mesquite wood they use to cook with.  I especially love the healthy twists on a few of the dishes they are offering.  Getting me to eat kale and broccoli in the same meal was a feat in it of itself.  So, do I think this new place will stick around longer than the last one that occupied this space?  Absolutely, and I highly recommend you stop by and check them out sometime, I know you won’t be disappointed!

Have you tried Station 49?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Station 49 Website  |  Menu  |  Facebook Page

Address1802 Old Dixie Hwy, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Phone(772) 492-8342

Open Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday’s, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm