This past Tuesday, I treated myself to a meal at Mambo Italia at Lavington Curve. As you may know, Mambo Italia recently had a makeover right before Nairobi Restaurant Week. They completely redid their outdoor patio and it’s looking really good! This renovation was just the face lift they needed to make their patio a great spot for evening cocktails or family meals. Having been to Mambo Italia before, I know it’s frequented by families in the early evenings. A section of their patio now has astroturf with outdoor seating and a big play area for kids.
The restaurant has great mood lighting which can be romantic in the late evenings (anytime after 8PM when the kiddies have gone to bed) and a view of the expansive night sky (more to come on this later).
It was Treat Yoself Tuesday so I of course treated myself to a glass of wine. I ordered the Unbelievable Red which was pretty unbelievable for the portion size and taste of the ksh 400 dry red wine. I like that the house wines Mambo Italia offers aren’t boxed wine or Drostdy Hof. Even though house wine will always be the cheapest wine the restaurant offers, it’s nice when you’re treated to a good tasting cheap wine. Plus, for both the white and red house wine, they have sweet and dry options which caters to everyone’s palette.
The drink menu at Mambo Italia is pretty comprehensive, particularly their wine menu which is good considering this is a contemporary Italian restaurant. They also offer interesting fresh juices like lime and ginger, beetroot, and strawberry juice. You can view their non-alcoholic beverage menu here.
I ordered the chicken with pesto and mozzarella main dish to try something different. I’ve had their pizzas before and aside from having interesting flavour profiles and being a well-made pizza, they’re nothing special.
When the chicken dish came out, I almost asked the waiter to confirm that I had received chicken. The chicken ball (if you will) looked more like a deep fried baked potato than a chicken breast.
All main dishes at Mambo Italia are served with salad, fresh vegetables and your choice of either mashed potatoes or chips. When I cut into the chicken breast, it was definitely chicken which had been stuffed with mouth-watering, oozing, aromatic, mozzarella cheese and pesto.
The chicken breast was simply seasoned with a crispy fried breadcrumb exterior. The pesto was warm and had a great balance of flavour between the pine nuts, basil, and olive oil. It was the kind of pesto that you eat and wonder why you haven’t had more pesto in your life. Mixed with the melted mozzarella cheese, the chicken stuffing was the best tasting component of the dish. Unfortunately, I’ve never had a stuffed chicken breast where the chicken itself isn’t dry and this was no exception. Making sure the chicken is completely cooked when stuffing then breading and frying the chicken can be difficult which leads to the tendency of over cooking it and leaving it dry. Thankfully, the stuffing was saucy and delicious so the chicken didn’t end up tasting bad when eaten.
The salad was also seasoned extremely well. It had a great tangy vinaigrette lightly coating the vegetables which I could’ve eaten all day. The fresh steamed vegetables were fresh: that’s about all I can say for them. They weren’t seasoned thoroughly and although I know steaming vegetables isn’t the most exciting way to cook, they could have been bettered with some seasoning. Toss them in the vinaigrette that was used to coat the salad and I’d eat steamed vegetables all the time. The mashed potatoes were also bland. Like the steamed vegetables, they had very little salt and no pepper, I could barely taste any butter either. I was looking for some salt and pepper at the very least, maybe even a little bit of garlic would’ve made them better.
Our waiter was friendly and efficient when he served us. It was nice to see other waitstaff assisting him in bringing out the food when it was ready and he was preoccupied at another table. The one stand out part of my experience with the service at Mambo Italia was when our waiter came by and asked us if we were okay and enjoying our food about 10 minutes after service. I really enjoy it when waiters/waitresses do this. They come over to make sure everything’s okay without trying to sell you on another glass of wine or beer. It gives you the opportunity to taste the food and provide feedback or ask for condiments.
My experience at Mambo Italia was alright because the service was great, the ambiance is lovely and the food was okay. Yet the food is a bit pricey for me considering I paid ksh 1150 for bland mashed potatoes, bland steamed vegetables, and dry chicken. However, I think Mambo Italia is a great setting for drinks and a shared pizza (you can’t go wrong with pizza). The outdoor patio looks fantastic and you should check it out if you have the opportunity to. Remember that time I mentioned the expansive night skies at Mambo Italia? Well, a good opportunity to visit would be the Traveling Telescope’s star gazing event happening this Friday.
The drink: 9/10
The food: 6/10
The service: 9/10