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“Italian-American cheap imitation”
Review of Mamma Lucia

Mamma Lucia
Ranked #42 of 373 Restaurants in Bethesda
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Italian
Dining options: Delivery
Restaurant details
Dining options: Delivery
Reviewed October 22, 2013

Maybe I'm not objective because I'm used to real Italian food, and this chain caters to the taste of Americans, who go for quantity instead of quality (Olive Garden style). It's a mass-market joint that has no pretense of being a high quality restaurant

2  Thank ItalianTranslations
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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106 - 110 of 137 reviews

Reviewed October 14, 2013

The atmosphere is nothing special, but they serve good home-style food. I love the eggplant parmigiana. The eggplant is very thinly sliced and not overloaded with breadcrumbs. It is not greasy and the tomato sauce is seasoned with the right amount of garlic. The garlic bread is tasty.

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Thank PRSRJS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2013

We’ve been nearly weekly regular diners at various restaurants of Mamma Lucia, since the opening of the Rockville store in the late 1990s. But I can confidently say that last night was the last time we will eat at Mamma Lucia.
Over the years we’ve seen waves of decline and improvement in both the food and service. The quality of both food and service widely varies from one of their restaurants to another. Over time we developed a weekly routine of eating there. We usually went to the Bethesda store and the managers, the waiters and a few other guests recognized us. The waiters were familiar with our usual orders and sometimes came to the table prepared with beverages. For us, that was a delight.
The food has at times been excellent. At other times it has been awful. Sometimes a pasta entrée is floating in oil. Sometimes the tomato sauce has had chips of burned sauce, stirred up from the bottom of a pot that had been sitting for too long. Or more often the sauce is dry and concentrated from over cooking. If the sauce contains prosciutto, the amount of salt can be overwhelming. I sometimes order pizza when I see the pasta entrees served to other tables. We stopped ordering fried calamari because it is often overcooked, rubbery and very oily. I started ordering a Caesar salad because I don’t like the excessive amount of olive oil often on their house salad. It’s difficult to not compare the Caesar salads from the many Italian restaurants in the general vicinity. Most of them are made well, using traditional ingredients. The dressing of the Caesar salad served at Mamma Lucia resembles a bottled cream dressing. It’s tangy and more similar to a basic but too salty, creamy Italian dressing, not a Cesar. However, there’s very little of it on the salad. The problem is that the lettuce is always unnecessarily wet, and combined with the dressing they use, it’s soggy and not appetizing. Honestly, when I go to a restaurant, I hope to have food that I cannot easily make at home. Given the number of excellent Italian restaurants in Bethesda, if the food is badly prepared, it’s really not acceptable.
I find it a little comical that there are so many non-waiter, non-cook people behind the counter. Some seem to be doing nothing but watching a sport on the TV monitor behind the counter. Often waiters gather at the bar to keep up with games, ignoring customers. Once when we went to the Silver Spring Mamma Lucia, there were four men lined up behind the counter by the front door greeting people as they walked in. This was in addition to a hostess who seated us. All the while, two cooks and two waitresses scrambled to serve the guests. It made us wonder what those four men were being paid to do.
There were times when the service was so atrocious that you couldn’t make up the story. On one occasion we waited 25 minutes before even being seen sitting at the table. The waitress forgot our order and returned to re-take it. Everything was out of order. The waitress brought cold food. No beverages were ever served, despite several reminders. When the check came, she lost our credit card. Thirty minutes later, once she found it under a food counter, she processed the payment and brought only the store’s copy of the receipt for me to sign. She explained that she was no longer able to print my customer copy and suggested that I take a photo of the store copy with my cell phone. The other waiters just sat back and watched, without helping her. I might add that the tomato sauce was burned and we were unable to eat all of it. That waitress misplaced the remainder of the order that she was asked to package.
The managers of the Bethesda restaurant have changed this year. And there was a general improvement in the quality of the food and service when this happened. However, recently the manager has not been on duty on Sunday nights. In the absence of the manager, on several occasions the waiters and staff have played hard rock music, instead of their usual Italian ambient music. When we questioned a waiter about it, he remarked that since the manager wasn’t there, they were enjoying the change. On one occasion the music was very loud and we observed that all the customers were outside, not inside.
Last night there was a similar repeat of our previous bad experience. We were seated and waited about 15 minutes before we had to flag down a waitress to get started. She took our order and passed it on to someone else. About ten minutes later another waiter came by the table saying that he would be our waiter and that he would be back with our beverage. He came back quickly with our salad. The beverages came later and we had to ask for part of it. A few bites into the salad, our entrees were delivered by yet another waiter. It took perhaps 5 minutes to get all courses of the entire meal on the table, all at once. Our waiter then showed up at an adjacent table because their check was incorrect. Then the waiter disappeared. (The table was a small sized table for two. There were eight plates on the table, plus a basket of dried out bread, plus four beverage glasses, a large bottle of unused and unopened bottled water, plus several condiment containers and silverware. The table was so crowded with empty dishes that our entrée plates were hanging over the edge. I can say that this is a common problem. Waiters don’t always notice the mess they leave on customer’s tables. And sometimes it remains there even when customers are finished and leaving.)
Back to last night. One of our entrees wasn’t up to par and was left half-eaten. Once we finished eating, we waited another 10 minutes for another waiter to notice. We asked for the uneaten portion to be boxed and we asked for the check. All the plates were cleared and another long wait began. We asked several times again for the check. As it turned out, the waiter couldn’t find our order in their system and another waiter said he was unable to print out a check. You might have expected a manager to drop by the table at this point to say something. However, some unidentified person yelled across the restaurant at us, telling us they were having a problem. I might have expected the waiter or the manager to look at a menu and hand write a check for us, and then deal with their technical difficulties later. After a while, we had to flag down another waiter to request that he find the uneaten-boxed food that had never been returned to the table. Throughout all of the wait periods during dinner, we observed that there were nine people behind the food counter in addition to four waiters, one service person, and a hostess. Another waiter periodically dropped in between deliveries. There were 16 employees for only four seated tables. It was approximately 8:30 when we finished eating; not late. We were the only table inside the restaurant. Three other tables were seated outside. Our order was for two entrees and two beverages. There should not have been any problem for them. After about 25 minutes, they did print a check.
Then as we left, a man yelled across the restaurant again at us: “Thanks for coming.”

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2  Thank vierhandig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013

When in the pasta mood, we enjoy our experiences here and at two other locations in Rockville and Gaithersburg. Good salad portions with warmed Italian bread, olive oil and cheese and especially their yum good angel hair with meat balls or seafood variations. Always good with happy servers adding warmth to the moment. I love dark lagers not always available but when they are, I indulge amply. I've seen their desserts but never seem to have the capacity for any once satiated by their entres. AAA

Thank Graham B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2013

We had three great pizza's for take out for a home party - all meat, veggie, and just cheese, all thin, NY style - delicious!!! GREAT service, honest prices, park in the car park next store and sample a garlic roll while waiting - such nice staff all around! The chefs are right up front so you can watch all and the place was packed on a Friday at 6PM with families and kids of all ages - that tells you good, good food, prices and loyalty. You get a happy feeling coming here!!!!

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Thank TheCmdr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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