Recently-renovated Fulton restaurant now offers wood-fired pizza
By Christopher Malone
Mama Gina’s Ristorante & Pizzeria was established in Fulton in 1982. Although I’ve lived outside Oswego County my whole life — born a year after this restaurant was established — I never had a reason to go to Fulton for a dinner until this review.
Aside from looking up the address and the menu ahead of time, I did all my research after a a visit to the restaurant, since I didn’t want my opinion to be swayed by comments from social media.
The interior is impressive. The floors were spotless. The wooden seating, the chairs and tables and especially the booth we sat in, were sturdy. The wall décor was limited ,with multimedia murals. The hand-drawn art boasted a quasi-steampunk theme complete with gears and a bicycle. Each mural had a piece of repurposed hardware as a clever, not obnoxious accent.
Come to find out the reason Mama Gina’s looks so brand new is because of last year’s renovation, a periodwhen dining was limited, from July to December. Although I don’t know what the place looked like before, it looks wonderful now.
Mama Gina’s has a lot of food to offer. There are the baked pasta dishes such as eggplant parmigiana and ziti. Handheld fare includes burgers, paninis and subs. Plus, there are the soups and salads.
We started off with two Italian notable appetizers: bruschetta ($6.99) and Utica greens ($8.99). The presentation and quality of each exceed the plebian terminology, so these will be promoted as small plates.
The fresh Italian-style tomatoes sat on a toasted piece of thick-sliced bread. Keeping the toms to the bread was a sheet of herbed boursin cheese. The cheese was soft and creamy and did not overrun the palate-pleasing dish.
The Utica greens weren’t the version of the regional staple, but they were great. Our server asked us if we wanted them mild or hot and, of course, we chose the latter. The greens were drained well and didn’t leave an unappealing pool of veggie sweat on the dish. The bitterness was noticeable, but not obnoxious, and the heat was very satisfying. For the cost of the Utica greens, Mama Gina’s provided a very generous amount.
The leftovers were enjoyed the following day, and the state of the greens were not compromised. I saved a tiny bit for a third day — there was that much — but some sogginess set in.
Unfortunately, the small plates arrived after two of our pizzas hit the table. The server was very apologetic. However, it didn’t compromise our dining experience. It was a family meal, but for two people.
My partner has to take credit for this observation and comment: Mama Gina’s is a great setting for a family pizza night. There is plenty of seating. The age demographic was widespread. Patrons really started to pile in after 6 p.m.
We ordered three pizzas. The two wood-fired pies, which are 11-to-12 inches, were the prosciutto and arugula ($14.50) and the “Don’t Forget Sausage” ($13.50). In terms of price point, these are very fair. We also ordered a personal-sized margherita ($12.99) regular pie.
Mama Gina’s pizzas include standard pizzas, wood-fired, gourmet/specialty, and gluten-free. Patrons also have the option to build their own pizzas.
To compliment the renovation, a wood-fired oven was installed in Mama Gina’s kitchen. It usually takes a few years to effectively break in an oven, and I question the possibility that this establishment’s domed oven came pre-seasoned. However, the thin crusts came out nice, crispy and toasty.
The prosciutto and arugula pizza came out on top, in my opinion. Aside from the ingredients featured in its name, the white pizza is built with garlic confit, buffalo mozzarella and Reggiano cheeses, and a balsamic vinegar reduction.
The “Don’t Forget Sausage” pizza was lightly coated with tomato sauce. The sausage itself was really tasty, and it naturally paired well with the caramelized onions and roasted reds. The drizzle of honey added a perfectly sweet addition. Unfortunately, the ingredients are heavy and the crust soaked up the water that naturally comes from the peppers and onions. Aside making the crust flimsier, it didn’t take away from the taste.
The margherita pizza, the regular pie, met expectations as far as flavor goes. The predictability is a good thing, because no one should screw up one of the more notable specialty pizzas. It was slightly smaller than the wood-fired duo. The crust was on the chewier side, but it wasn’t rubbery. It allowed a nice fold for a small slice.
Before the tip, the bill came to just over $61. For the amount of food, the bill was fair.
The family-owned Mama Gina’s is very family-friendly. There were options we wanted to try, especially the pasta dishes which looked great as they landed on tables. I can see this place growing on me as a solid go-to in the future.
101 S. 2nd St., Fulton, NY 13069
10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sun. – Thurs.
10:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., Fri. – Sat.