BURNT HILLS – It’s time for ice cream and everything that comes along with it. At Mama’s Ice Cream, open now for the season at the corner of Route 50 and Lake Hill Road, what comes with it are some pleasant surprises.
I’ve been hearing about Mama’s for years — my niece Ann Marie and her family are big fans. A big reason, besides the food she loves, is that Mama’s oil doesn’t contain soy. They also have non-dairy ice cream in addition to regular soft-serve.
We were the first customers when they opened at noon on a weekday, but it wasn’t long before we had plenty of company. You can eat outside; there is a shaded seating area with tables and chairs off to the side, and some benches scattered around — perfect for two people to sit and eat ice cream.
Ann Marie knows Jerry Menagias, the owner, because she’s had to ask about ingredients in the food. He’s been nice enough to accommodate. He told her they’ve been open 15 years.
She pointed to the bottles of Jerry’s tomato sauce behind the glass. “That’s him,” she said.
It’s hard to choose from the Mama’s menu because of the great variety, and as Ann Marie says, “I’ve never had something I didn’t like here.” Highly recommended by her family are the gyros. The smallest member likes the chicken nuggets — “better than McDonald’s,” said Ann Marie, who grew up eating them.
If you’re there for ice cream you can get soft-serve in chocolate, vanilla, twist or the flavor of the day, as well as Italian ices or Gifford’s ice cream from Maine.
If you’re there for a meal there are almost too many choices, starting with a quarter-pound cheeseburger ($4.50). Mama’s double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and Mama’s dressing is $8. There are fish fries and clam fries ($8), or you can get them as a dinner with french fries and coleslaw ($11.50).
A Nathan’s hot dog with the works (meat sauce, onion and mustard) is $4.25. Have a cheese quesadilla ($8) or stuff it with chicken, Buffalo chicken or barbecue chicken for $10.
Salads next: Caesar for $8.50, Greek for $10. A gyro with beef, chicken or lamb is $9. Sandwiches or wraps start at $8.75. Don’t miss the homemade lemonade.
Ann Marie recommends the strawberry lemonade ($5), brightly colored with pieces of strawberry. I got a regular lemonade ($4.50) that was sweet and pulpy like it had been fresh-squeezed.
Handwritten signs offered specials, but really they were surprises — a fresh lobster roll with french fries and homemade coleslaw for $20, and pork belly in a wrap ($9.50).
We picked our table and set out our boxes of food. You can dine al fresco behind a row of potted shrubs; they block much of the view of traffic on Route 50 but are no match for the noise. I had no idea so many heavy commercial vehicles travel that road. Our small companion liked them just fine, though.
Ann Marie had the lobster roll special and couldn’t say enough good things about it. The brioche roll was stuffed with a massive amount of mayonnaise-dressed lobster. About a 3-to-1 ratio of filling to bun, she decided. “This is delicious,” she said, and forked up a fat piece of claw meat to show me.
A judicious amount of mayonnaise holds it together — not too much. “This is just so good,” she said.
The coleslaw is a balance of sweet and tangy, with celery seeds and small pieces of pepper. Not the way she makes it, but she liked it very much.
Mama’s cooking oil has a great flavor that’s passed on to the fries. They’re crispy, pale and salty, with soft potato inside.
“Their fries are delicious but I want to finish this,” said Ann Marie, holding out the last of her lobster roll.
The pork belly wrap called to me and it was an excellent choice. The pieces of pork were like chunks of soft bacon, fat and all, tossed in barbecue sauce. They were tender and had wonderful pork flavor. The balance of the wrap was fresh lettuce, ripe red tomatoes and thinly sliced onion, all rolled neatly in the tight wrapper. I loved it, and ate both halves.
I shouldn’t have skipped the feta cheese, though. The saltiness would have cut the sweetness of the barbecue sauce a bit. Next time.
The lemonade was a bit sweet for me but I really enjoyed the pulp and the fresh flavor. I helped with the french fries, and with the 2-year-old’s chicken nuggets ($6.75, with fries). They had a light, crispy coating with a uniform tasty filling.
“Aren’t they good?” said Ann Marie.
There was a kid-sized mango oat-milk ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles ($4.13) to finish, which was clearly enjoyed by our small friend. What wasn’t eaten was dripped and smeared and spilled everywhere. We laughed at the mess, and at who was making it.
There was a change of clothes and many wipes, and we were on our way. The tab for our lunch came to $60.48 including two lemonades, a lobster roll meal, a pork belly wrap, chicken nuggets and fries, and an ice cream cone.
It sounds like a lot, but where can you get a really good fresh lobster roll meal for $20?
Did I mention the fried dough? Ann Marie said, “I like that I can get fair food without the fair.” Good point.
“It’s nice to support a local family and their food is top-notch,” she said. I agree on both counts.
So bring the family. The prices are friendly, and save room for ice cream. Get the lobster roll for yourself.
Mama’s Ice Cream and Food
WHERE: 119 Lake Hill Road, Burnt Hills, 518-280-5641.
WHEN: 12 p.m to 9 p.m. daily, until Labor Day
HOW MUCH: $60.48, with tax and tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express. Apple pay. Parking lot. Children’s menu.
Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach her at [email protected].
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Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Local Flavor, Scotia Glenville