Ristorante Mamma Gina has been serving authentic Florentine cuisine in Italy since 1956 and in California since 1986. Located in Palm Desert, this restaurant offers a wine bar with an exceptional happy hour menu that runs from opening until closing. The lunch and dinner menu is comprised of soups, salads, appetizers, Paninis, pastas, and entrees. The Brodetto Di Pesce Fresco is a specialty: Cioppino style fish stew with fresh catch of the day, calamari, mussels, clams, scallops, and shrimp in a light saffron and tomato sauce. Another favorite is the Gnocchi Al Gorgonzola: Homemade potato dumplings with a gorgonzola cheese sauce. The ambience is both elegant and relaxed, with large oil paintings and dim, romantic lighting. For traditional Italian cuisine, Ristorante Mamma Gina is an ideal place to hold an intimate dinner conversation while sharing a bottle of one of the world’s finest wines.
My wife and I have lived here for a long time and have never been. So we decided to go for a romantic dinner. My first tip off was that The hostess, Janelle, was incredibly rude to us. My wife has diabetes and was drinking a fruit drink in a small cup when we entered. She rudely and judgmentally asked, "Is that alcohol?" No, my wife replied. "Well go outside and finish it" she said. Now, really, we should've left right then and there. Or asked to speak to the manager. But we laughed a bit and stayed.
We noticed that the place was not busy at all, and there were nearly no locals. We all know what that means. The service was gruff, unprofessional, lacking and rude. The food came...and you guessed it...it was terrible. One dimensional, bland, small portions, my wife's seafood pasta literally stunk, the seafood was not fresh. I sent it back for fear of food poisoning. My lasagna tasted like it came from a frozen dinner container...a BAD frozen dinner.
All in all, after talking with some friends at work the following Monday, I learned that no one local goes there...it has a reputation as a place that needs a fresh supply of unsuspecting tourists to say in business.
Advice: AVOID. Go anywhere else for Italian in Newport Beach.