Papa & Mamma is probably the closest iteration of a mom and pop Italian restaurant in Seoul. Our Toastmasters club decided to kick off our new year party over there. I haven’t been a big of a fan of Italian restaurants in Seoul, but visit them occasionally to get some semblance of what I used to get back at home. I was pleasantly surprised as this was probably the best Italian restaurant I’ve been to so far. You can find this place by going out of exit 8-2 of the Express Bus Terminal Station (고속터미널역) on line 3. You need to turn around once you get out of the exit and make a right on the main street to head north. The restaurant occupies a small suite inside a mall.
Here is the address:
서초구 잠원동 72-2번지 반원상가 108호
Seochogu Jamwondong 72-2 Banwonsanga room 108
The menu has a good variation without being too vast. I highly recommend the grilled chicken. Unfortunately, the menu isn’t terribly friendly for English speakers, but at least most of the dishes are in English.
The restaurant itself is fairly small with enough room for about 5 or so parties with enclosed outside seating also available. The lighting is warm and fairly well lit, and the interior feels very intimate with the kitchen running along the tables. Like most Italian restaurants, they offer their own fresh herb bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as some pickles and tomatoes. The bread was quite soft and chewy.
The service was pretty decent and the food came out relatively quickly despite the kitchen being so small. I was told the cook was a head chef of Seoul Hilton, which may explain why.
Pizzas – 14,000 to 16,000 won
They offer a free pizza for every 100,000 won you spend in cash, so we were generously given a couple of pizzas for our party. The pizzas were made very thinly, but were supple with a certain elasticity. They are made from scratch and are finished off in a brick fire oven. The result is quite good and there were no signs of burn marks which shows the care they put into each pizza.
Crab Pasta (그랑 끼오) – 13,000 won
I ordered the crab pasta which was quite good. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the cream sauce had a good thickness and flavor. There were small bits of broccoli, mushroom and tomato that seem to go well with the dish. The crab meat seemed fairly fresh as if I were eating it from the shell. I believe they used snow crab. I wish they didn’t grate the Parmesan cheese beforehand as I’m used to being in control of how much gets on my pasta. I was disappointed with the presentation as it didn’t look nearly as good as the other entrees I encountered, but it was overall a very good dish.
Grilled Chicken (참나무 장작 영계구이)- 24,000 won
I only managed to get a couple of bites of this, but it was exquisite. According to the Korean name, it was grilled with oak wood and the result was fantastic. The chicken had a nice charring flavor and excellent browning throughout. The meat was slightly moist and bursting with smokey flavor. It tasted very similar to a rotisserie chicken, but with much richer, smokier flavors. This was easily my favorite dish and I really wanted to eat more!
Below are some of the dishes that I didn’t get to try:
I almost gave up on Italian restaurants in Seoul, but Papa and Mamma restored my faith. The service, the quality food, and the atmosphere were all very good. I hope it is a sign of better Italian food to come in Seoul.
If you have any Italian restaurants to recommend, please let me know in the comments below!