Mimmo's Ristorante and Pizzeria
It’s a family thing
As a kid, I measured my family against people I saw on TV and in movies. I figured they were on the screen because they were reliable examples of what families were supposed to be.
The thing that stood out to me most was watching them go to dinner. They'd have a regular place where everyone knew their names. The whole family would order spaghetti, mom and dad drank wine, and the kids blew their straw wrappers at each other.
My family didn’t have a regular place—unless you count McDonald's. I suspect, looking back, that eating in public with three young children wasn’t a lot of fun for my parents.
Mimmo’s is exactly the kind of place my younger self had in mind for weekly dinners out. You know: “Guess what kids? It’s Friday! Let’s all go to Mimmo’s!” Or something like that. We’d all pile into a station wagon with faux-wood paneling instead of our mustard-yellow Land Cruiser and arrive at the restaurant to find our usual table ready. There would be silly jokes and gentle reprimands, and everybody would be so happy.
Mimmo’s has Italian food and pizza that could please any family member. Not much of a connoisseur? Head for the buffet. Make your own salad and leave off all those things you just can’t eat. Chart another trip for pasta and pick the sauce color of your choice, with or without meat. There are also goodies like chicken Parmigiana, Italian sausage and stuffed pastas. Many buffet items are quality, in stark contrast to what the heat lamps suggest.
On the menu, entrées range from American interpretations of Italian food, like spaghetti and meatballs, to dishes more likely to be found in Italy, though most are definitely styled after American preferences. Take Mimmo's house special, veal scallopini. Pounded paper-thin, the veal cutlets are tender and moist and finished with a hefty sauce that's assertive with wine and cream. So far, so good. The amount of sauce, however, is almost comically portioned. I've come to expect too much sauce at New Mexico's Italian-American restaurants, but wow. There was so much on my visits that it actually spilled off the plate.
An order of lasagna isn’t quite what mom makes, but it certainly shows up Olive Garden and the like with more than enough cheese and, of course, sauce aplenty. The garlic bread is über-toasted but perfect for scooping up all that sauce.
Pounded paper-thin, the veal cutlets are tender and moist and finished with a hefty sauce that's assertive with wine and cream.
I didn’t try the pizzas, but I was surrounded by obvious fans. They looked great. Made to order and served piping-hot, people were devouring them in every corner of the restaurant.
So here’s the thing. Mimmo’s is a spot-on family restaurant. Nothing too exotic, nothing too expensive. It’s a great place to take the rug rats. Kids can devour piles of spaghetti while mom and dad treat themselves to slightly more sophisticated dishes. They even have real Italian wines like Barolo and Barbaresco.
What really makes this joint a family place are the atmosphere and service. Tables are decked with thick, red tablecloths and flanked by old wooden chairs. There are wine bottles on display and a view into the kitchen. One visit allowed us to glimpse a girl filling cannoli.
Mimmo’s serving staff is incredible. They’re all smiles and no request is unreasonable. They joke and laugh with you so much it’s easy to forget you just met. Seriously, my best friend isn’t that nice to me.
While Mimmo's food probably wouldn’t compare to a glitzy, white tablecloth establishment with a dress code and candles, it scores high on a different level. It’s just right if you’re looking for a place to become a regular. You can overeat and not worry about looking cool. The staff makes you feel so welcome and comfortable you might forget you’re not at home and do something you’d never do in public, like unbutton your pants after dessert. If you're discreet about it, I don’t think anyone would mind.