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Italian restaurant short on space, big on taste

Kit Lewis / Lantern photographer

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In the alley between High and Pearl street sits a campus tradition that many students might have seen as a passer-by, but have yet to experience.

Mama’s Pasta and Brew, a bar and restaurant which serves Italian-style food, has been at 23 Campus Place since 1977.  

Mama’s offers a simple menu of pizzas, salads, subs, spaghetti and lasagna. The food is reasonably priced with most meals available for $10 or less.

While I was there, I had their “Greek Row” pizza sub, which had pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni on an open-faced sub. The meal was nothing elaborate, but the large portion, satisfying taste and price of $4.60 made for a fantastic first experience.

Terry Fahy, owner of Mama’s Pasta and Brew since 1983, said the homemade lasagna and the Mama’s submarine sandwich are the crowd favorites.

Space at Mama’s is fairly limited with seating for about 50 people, but it only enhances the friendly, community feel the bar offers.

The room is dimly lit, with photos posted on wood-paneled walls, a shelf packed with bottles, and classic rock music playing in the background.

Despite the casual, laid-back atmosphere, the service was attentive and friendly. Staff checked back with our table multiple times, even though they were busy working and talking with people at the bar.

Fahy said the people that come to Mama’s are what set the place apart from other bars and restaurants on campus.

“We have anywhere from college sophomores to freshmen, and we have people in their 40s and 50s that come in here to play darts,” Fahy said.

My first experience of Mama’s was on a Wednesday, its weekly Dart Night. While we ate dinner, some of the staff began a game of darts with people at the bar.The dart boards play a bigger part in the Mama’s Pasta and Brew experience. The restaurant has had competitive dart leagues for more than 24 years, according to its website.

The website also says Mama’s has about 200 customers who consider themselves regulars. Fahy organizes events for these regulars, like the upcoming white-water rafting trip which will have 80 people attending this year.

Greeting and hugs between the staff and people who walked through the door show this place goes beyond serving just food and drinks for the community.

My best advice to students and the Columbus community would be to stop by Mama’s Pasta and Brew for a relaxed, inexpensive night of dinner and drinks while enjoying the friendly staff and crowd that already seem to consider this place a home away from home.

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