Mama's Cafe Baci Meetup in Hackettstown, NJ 2/23/18
Of course, on the day we finally get up to a very northern NJ spot, it rains annoyingly. Not hard, but annoying. You know what I mean. It happens all the time in Jersey and it makes you wanna smack the clouds. The traffic was so terrible that what should have taken us an hour and twenty minutes, took us two hours. Google took us off the highway and we drove foggy back roads with no street lights for about 45 minutes. My husband joked that I was taking him to be murdered, but he knows I don't joke around about food. When we finally arrived, 4 members of the group were already there! I set up signage and cards and stickers and we all sat to chat. They had been there before, so we mostly talked about their favorite foods.
Others showed up much later, the drive taking them forever as well. It wasn't a large meetup, but I feel that's how it goes whenever we take the trip up to north NJ. I'm not talking Jersey City or Union kind of north. I mean really north. Either way, we'll keep coming back every now and again because I still want to eat all the food and dining alone will not stop me! :)
I saw that Mama's Cafe Baci has signs to put at the end of each table to indicate if the table will be ordering vegan or gluten-free, which I thought was awesome. It reminds all staff of what the table is getting and leaves less room for error. I think it also puts the customer at ease. They have a vegan menu and a vegan/gluten-free menu! You can find them on their menus page. They also let us know that they use a separate fryer and grill for vegan food, which is always what you want to hear!
They had a few vegan specials for the night, but honestly, after they said oyster mushroom scallops with fried spinach, I stopped listening because that sounded so good. We overheard them telling every table about the vegan specials, which was pretty awesome to think that an omni table might order some vegan food because the restaurant gave them the option. The "scallops" came out and they were amazing. The fried spinach really added something to the dish, too. I could have eaten a thousand of these. I actually debated ordering it again, immediately after I finished it. I don't think they tasted like scallops, but they were prepared in a way that definitely reminded you of scallops. Seafood was always my favorite before I went vegan, so anything that reminds me of it without having to kill anyone is awesome in my book!
My husband ordered the appetizer of vegan sausage and meatballs in sauce, but it was a very small portion. However, the meatballs were amazing and caused me to change my entree to Meatball Fra Diavlo, instead of sausage. Fra Diavlo dishes are almost always seafood or meat heavy, so I haven't had one since going vegan. Spicy is my favorite flavor and, while this wasn't super heavy on the spice, it was delicious. I really like the vegan meatballs they used. I'm not sure if it was homemade or if they are store bought, but I'm a fan either way! I had debated getting a second entree and since we sat there for so long (between the late comers and how much we always end up talking at these meetups) and one of the others ordered something that just looked too good, I gave in. I ordered the Vegan Alfredo, which was a simple dish with a house made Alfredo sauce with broccoli and rigatoni. The sauce was DELICIOUS and I can always appreciate perfectly cooked broccoli. Broccoli may be my favorite vegetable. Sometimes I actually crave it. If I had some of that Alfredo sauce, I'd probably crave it a lot more often!
For desserts, they offer cannolis from Vegan Treats, a few things from Papa Ganache and their own house made vegan sweets! Again, you can go to their menu page and see their desserts list! We got their house made zeppoles and had them to go. The sugar had turned to a glaze and they weren't as soft and pillowy by the time we got home, but they were still amazing, especially with the chocolate sauce we were given!
Long story short, Mama's Cafe Baci was a delicious place. The prices are a little painful, but they do offer a bit in the way of discounts. They offer half price appetizers from 9pm-midnight everyday, they have a preferred customer card that gets you 10% off and more! Before going, I saw on their Instagram that you could text "MAMAS" to 48421 and receive a free appetizer, so I did that and we ate those amazing oyster mushrooms for free! It also signs you up for discounts via text message. I've gotten messages about 15% off all day, ½ off appetizers and other similar discounts. If you live near and want to eat here more often, I would sign up for some of these discounts! It's worth it, for sure because the food really was delicious!