There aren’t enough “No Reservations” episodes to accurately explain the beauty of freshly pasta made by a Sicilian woman who’s been doing it for over 40 years. Eating that woman’s pasta is an experience that you have to do at least once.
We visited Mama Santa’s in Little Italy, Cleveland, Ohio. For such a “little” Italy, there’s an exciting array of sit down Italian restaurants. Problem is that for lunch most are not open. We made two great decisions today for lunch. We avoided the chic and trendy deli Presti, and we stumbled upon a gem in Mama Santa’s.
The story of its owner, Guido (Guy) Scaffidi, is legendary. Guy served in the Italian Navy. Was captured and suffered in a Nazi prison camp. Moved to America. Didn’t know how to cook, not even a meatball. Bought the place in Little Italy. Let his mother in law, Mama Santa, cook the recipes she brought over from Sicily. And what you have now is a Cleveland institution, around since 1961.
Come to Mama Santa’s for the pasta. Specifically, you’d be remised if you failed to order the meatballs in marinara. Soft, succulent meatballs. Fresh, made from scratch pasta noodles with a little textual bite. The meat sauce runny, yet firm. The pickiest eater eats the plate, licks the plate, calls it a day.
Like any great restaurant, Mama Santa’s has been recognized most recently by City Search Cleveland. But let’s be honest here. As a foodie, as a stereotypical preppy food lover, I had never eaten fresh pasta. Just not readily available in the Toledo region. I’ve now had fresh pasta. Where do I stand in line?