We Like Our Food With a Little Friction 

click to enlarge reataurant_mama_zu_200.jpg

Ever-masochistic Richmond loves a conflict. Even more, Richmond loves to pretend it has a reckless, wild side hiding beneath that Brooks Brothers topcoat. A trek to semithreatening Oregon Hill to take out-of-towners to a nondescript bunker just reeking of garlic is about as edgy as food gets here: the reliably above-board underground dining experience.

No level of glitz and polish beats Mamma 'Zu as our Restaurant of the Decade. Sure there are prettier, trendier, friendlier restaurants throughout the city and we love them too — we tell you about them all the time. But what we tell ourselves when we're hungriest is that no amount of fanfare can take the place of lustrously oily Italian food slapped down without the usual hospitality, cash only. It's been blood sport for years to bitch about this place while waiting and waiting. Even haters go back just so they can complain. … after they slurp up every bite.

Restaurant of the Decade: Mamma 'Zu

Runners-Up: The survivors. Every restaurant that figured out how to serve us and stay afloat when the going got tough.

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