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Mamma Mia India – A Cultural Epiphany

By Vicki Heath on June 15, 2013 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

Italian infused with Indian, you say? Yes, it can be done. Mamma Mia India in North Bondi combines the languid lifestyle of the Italians with boisterous Indian flair. Italian opera-esque tunes are on the dial today but a Bollywood Hindi film soundtrack wouldn’t be out of place. Such is the freedom of mixed cuisine!

The Mamma Mia India concept arose from creator Judith Maher’s love of both the Italian and Indian cultures and a spin on the familiar idea of ‘Mother India’. The name was a semi-humorous working title for many years when the café was just a pipe dream, but nothing seemed more fitting when Judith was ready to open the doors.

Off the beaten track in Wairoa Avenue, North Bondi, the café has been operating for two months. It has a schmick black and gold exterior, cosy bench seating inside, and a second room that doubles as a homewares shop with a high, solid marble bench table amid embroidered notebooks, throw rugs and ornaments.

There’s a kitsch/vintage feel and, you guessed it, everything for sale was made in Italy or India. Judith says the homewares side has taken off, proving the perfect stop for last-minute presents or stocking up on knick-knacks. The intention is to celebrate international travel (she was in marketing for Qantas for over a decade) and to offer as many fair-trade options as possible.

Mamma Mia India is a place to pop along to any time of day. With espresso from $2.50, the bubbly Italian baristas bring their Italian mammas’ warmth to coffee service. Or there’s hari hari char with masala chai, assam and Darjeeling second flush for the tea lovers.

The cold beverage side is quite the mouthful: macario chinotto, aranciata, limonata, Fontana Viva sparkling mineral water, La Doria sparkling fruit juice. Or, from the subcontinent, there’s lassi – traditional Indian yoghurt and fruit blends in papaya and banana or berry.

Warning: this is not a place for the Bonsoy set or the gluten-free faint-hearted. Gourmet pastries abound, from exquisite brioche to biscotti and beyond. Other choices include toasted naan bread with ricotta, cinnamon and honey, an endless array of paninis, arancini balls, staples such as avocado, fetta and tomato on sourdough, and light meals in the evenings including eggplant parmigiana.

This could easily be a full-time wine bar if the Italian culture got its way. Mamma Mia India serves exclusively Italian wines as well as a cheeky Kingfisher Indian beer. You can load up your table with an affettato (meat) plate with prosciutto and bresaola sliced to order, or an Italian cheese plate as an accompaniment.

Judith has created an integrated space that celebrates both the whimsical world of India and Italian-inspired sophistication and makes the most of the relaxed North Bondi backstreet vibe. This could be the beginning of an aperitivo lifestyle – just add naan.

Mamma Mia India
Address: 38 Wairoa Avenue, North Bondi
Phone: (02) 9365 6214
Open: Tues 7.30am-5pm, Wed–Fri 7.30am-8pm, Sat 7.30am-7pm, Sun 7.30am-3pm. Closed Mondays.
Price: $2.50-$17
Seats: 20
Licensed/BYO: Fully licensed
Cards accepted: Mastercard, Visa