M&M Italian Restaurant Review
All of the text below was posted to OurLosBanos.com in 2007. Links have been removed as they are out of date.
Name Of Establishment M and M Italian Restaurant Address: 225 Seventh Street Los Banos Ca. Phone Number: 1-209-827-1666 Website: Unknown Prices: High Date Of Review: 10-27-2007 Check out the Official Merced County Health Inspection of this Restaurant - If that link isn't working try this link (note: these links are slow to load) Our Overall Numeric Rating Summation Opinion: Flat out superb food but the ambiance and location keep it from being as great as it might be.
It is not often that we break with tradition here at OurLosBanos.com. Some of our traditions and rules we impose on ourselves when we do reviews include one that we put in place to be fair to new restaurants that open up here in Los Banos. Our internal rule states: No restaurant will be reviewed if they have been open for less than one month.
The reason we made this rule for ourselves is to give restaurants the opportunity to 'settle in'. We realize that new places have 'rough spots' that need to be worked on and we do not think it right to publicly judge a place before it has had a fair chance to overcome the difficulties associated with start-up.
However the new M&M Italian Restaurant on 7th street made such an impression on us that we have decided to put this rule aside and do this early review only 2 weeks into their operation. Yes, it is that good.
On October 27, 2007 we had just finished shooting photos of the Soroptimist's Tea Event and we were hungry. Several of the Los Banos Forum members had posted about a new place in town that reportedly had ties to people that came from Original Joe's in San Jose. A couple of our forum members spoke very highly of this new place so we decided to give it a try. We went to M&M Italian Restaurant not intending to do this review, but left knowing that we really should not delay.
M&M is located in a rather tiny shopping center on the corner of C Street and 7th Street in Los Banos just across from the fire station. The location is not what you would call glamorous. They share the space with the Dog Grooming By Lisa Salon, The Buy N Save Mini Market, a laundromat, and a tiny gas station. M&M is tucked into the same corner where New York New York Pizza used to be.
We walked into the M and M Restaurant during a very slow period at about 2 PM and were greeted by the sole person working at the time. He was a friendly individual and walked us across the slate looking tile to a table set with white and crimson table linens which were covered in thick plastic.
We were handed menus which were simple paper inside a plastic sleeve and he took our drink order.
As we perused the menu my wife spoke of how the smell in the restaurant reminded her of her great grandfather's cooking. Her "papa" was an Italian and had quite a reputation in their community for being a wonderful cook... this was a good sign to be sure!
The menu had quite a number of choices. There were several fancy sounding Italian dishes, nine different types of salads, about a dozen different sandwiches, hamburgers, and an array of appetizers and other side dishes.
To be honest all the choices made us take our sweet time in ordering but since we were the only ones there neither the man behind the counter nor anyone else seemed to mind. In fact he repeatedly told us to take our time.
At length, my wife settled on the Veal Parmigiana and I was.. well.. still undecided. So I decided to ask. The gentleman pointed out several things that they specialized in, one of which was the chicken piccata. I decided to give that a whirl having no idea what it was but it sounded good from his description. (I ordered it without lemon.)
One thing we enjoyed right off was the fact that you can see the kitchen and watch your food being cooked from the tables. There is also a counter where you can sit if you want an even closer view. We decided to get the closer view and temporarily changed venue from the table to the counter to watch our meal being prepared.
The gentleman who took our orders was also wearing the chef's hat that day and we enjoyed watching him cook our meals. He used no less than three different types of cooking wines and each dish took far more steps to create than space allows us to describe here. Suffice it to say with the fire of the alcohol being burned off, the attention to detail with the sauces and more, it was a fairly extravagant though not too time consuming a process.
As our meals neared the end of their preparation we adjourned back to our table and our food was brought out for us. The presentation on the plates is simple. There is not a lot of effort taken up with 'prettying up' the food with garnishes and vegetables that you'll likely throw away anyhow. Along with the veal and the chicken we were also delivered a plate of ravioli and a plate of spaghetti that came with the entree's.
The food smelled wonderful and we dove right in. I must tell you that I have raved about the Chicken Piccata for about 3 days now... it was THAT GOOD. The chicken was tender, perfectly cooked, and the sauce that it was cooked in made it just a flat out spectacular dish. I would be hard pressed to NOT order it again when we return even though I really want to try some of the other items on the menu. It really was that great.
My wife dug into the veal which had the typical mild flavor that veal is known for. She described and the cheese and sauce as being very good. While the veal was tender and tasty, but we both agreed that the chicken dish was the absolute highlight of the food on the table.
We each were served pasta side dishes. Mine was spaghetti and it was tasty but it was afteral still just spaghetti..
On the other hand my wife's side dish was the raviolis - and these are not to be missed. Many times we have ordered ravioli which turns out to be mostly pasta (and not even that good of a pasta) with very little filling. Such was certainly not the case at M&M. The ravioli were thick and stuffed with meat that was seasoned just perfectly. The shells nice and thin but had been cooked a to perfect al-dente without being ruptured. The sauce was also very good and complimented the pasta quite nicely.
It is quite apparent that the folks that run M&M wish for their customers to be happy.During our meal we were asked several times how things were and I got the distinct impression that this was not the normal 'pleasantries' type of question. In fact the gentleman specifically asked if the sauce on my chicken was too salty - I suppose he was second guessing himself. It was not overly salty and in fact it was darn near perfect. In addition, as we were eating the chef brought over a second Veal Parmigiana fro my wife. When asked why he said it was because he believed that he had gotten the first one 'a little bit too well done'. He was right, it had been left on just a TAD too long but it certainly was not bad in fact if we had only eaten THAT one we still would have given it a good review. The replacement veal was even more tender.
If it is not already apparent, we both truly enjoyed our meal. The food was fantastic and hands down right up there with the best Italian food that we have had in many years. We really enjoyed the flavors and the service was excellent as well.
There are some minor downsides however and a couple of these fall under the 'breaking in' period that restaurants go through that we spoke of at the beginning of this review. First when it came time to pay, our credit card was taken out of the building and down to the Buy & Save market. M&M's credit card machine was not working yet. I find this unsettling but I understand why it was done.
The second thing we found to quibble about is the price. We felt that for the ambiance that was offered that the meals should have been a bit less expensive. Had the restaurant been more fancy and had the table linens not have been covered with plastic this would not have been so much of a consideration. However for forty dollars we think that there should be a lot more atmosphere and better decor. They should also lose the neon window frames in our opinion.
I am given to believe that several of the things noted as detractions above will one day change. The rumor is that M&M Italian Restaurant may change location if they do well and we hope that when they do that they make a 'destination' out of their restaurant which would be appropriate for taking a business client to or a date to really impress them. If they combined an elegant setting with the superb food they already have M&M could take a run at Espana's title of 'best restaurant experience' in Los Banos.
So the bottom line is that this is an early review of M&M Italian restaurant and not all of the bugs are worked out yet (which is to be expected) but the food is marvelous and the service is caring. It is our opinion that M&M Italian Restaurant is a fantastic addition to the Los Banos California restaurant scene and a welcome and tasty addition to our community.
Specific Opinions By Reviewer One Overall Rating : Food: Just Outstanding Service: Decor: Price/Value: Bathroom Cleanliness: Not observed Romance Factor: Family Friendliness:
Specific Opinions By Reviewer Two Overall Rating : Food: Service: Decor: Price/Value: Bathroom Cleanliness: Romance Factor: Potential for much more with improved ambiance Family Friendliness: No kid's menu