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Her Way!

Pearland takes a liking to "Mama" Italian Cafe

by RENIE KIENTZ Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON, meet "Mama." I'm, from Croatia. I cook Italian food with a Croatian and French touch. So how would you say it? It's Mama's cuisine. My son says, Mama you want compliments or rnoney? I want compliments.
My son says, Mama, people are in a hurry. I say, if someone is going to movies, they should not want homemade delicious Italian food, I don't want to cook like on track. It is true, sometimes to the cha-grin of Mama's son who put up the money for her Pearland restaurant. But his smile, the shrug, says it all. It At least the customers seem appreciative. They thank her by coming back. She estimates that 80 percent of the clientele at Santa Barbara Italian Cafe are regulars. They thank her by cleaning their plates, by coming over to compliment the chef on the way out.
"That was wonderful, Mama," says a silver--haired man (who's easily 10 years older -than she), paying his respects.
Mama, the chef is Jordana Tovich.

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By Mayra Beltran, Houston Chronicle
Sept. 15, 2005, 11:44PM

Carrot cake is such a cliché on local dessert menus that it's easy to be put off by all the leaden, saccharine versions, some of them still chilly from the fridge. Such sins do not afflict the monumental carrot cake served by Mama Jordana Tovich, the self-taught Croatian chef whose two homey BYOB Italian cafes - in Pearland and in a newer Friendswood edition - are such spirited fun. You can taste the carrots and nuts in this model cake, and the cream-cheese icing has that savory note that is devoutly to be wished. Just be sure to call ahead, because it's not always available, and (boo-hoo) you might instead have to settle for Mama's stupendous home-style tiramisu.

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