Santa Barbara Italian Cafe

(281) 648-2023

607 S. Friendswood Drive, Friendswood, TX | Directions   77546

29.526698 -95.197551

Open Hours

Mon. - Thu. 11am - 9pm;Fri. 11am - 10pm;Sat. 24 Hours;Sun. CLOSED

Restaurants, Catering, $  more

Tags: B.Y.O.B., Family-Friendly Dining, Group Dining, Local Favorite, Lunch Spot, Outdoor Dining

Cuisine: Italian

Payment Methods: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa


Bruschetta, Breaded Mozzarella Cheese Stick, Breaded Ravioli Stuffed w/ Ricotta Cheese & Jalapeno, Spinach & Cream Cheese Dip, Breaded Calamari, Tomato Caprese, Peppered Shrimp & Scallops, Buffalo Chicken Strips, Soup Cooked Daily, House Garden Salad... more

Reviews for Santa Barbara Italian Cafe

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Good food, but servers need some work – We decided to try this place out last night with another couple. My husband called to make reservations, and the hostess was not very intelligent or focused- she had to ask him to repeat simple things (i.e. number in our party) multiple times.

We arrive and the hostess tells us she us they are out of menus (a little odd since the place isn't even half full...), but then after a few mins found some. We were handed a Valentine's menu, and asked if we could order off the regular (Their website did not indicate a special menu, nor was this mentioned when we made reservations). We are told the Valentine's menu is the only option (This was on Feb 12th), but okay fine. There are no prices on the menu.

Our server comes and takes our drink orders. We then ask about pricing on the menu, and after asking two people nobody can tell us how much anything is. They give us ballparks, we continue to roll with it.

I ordered the lobster ravioli. They tell us the appetizer, fried asparagus with crab and cream sauce, has 4 large spears. We decide to order two. When they arrive each has six large spears. Would have been nice to know the actual size of the appetizer so we could have ordered only one, but we continue to roll with it and pack up some for leftovers.

After receiving our appetizers, salad, and soups our server informs me they do not have the lobster ravioli. I ask if I can order something off the regular menu as I did not want one of the other Valentine's entrees. They offer to do a cheese ravioli with the same sauce and shrimp, and I agree. The food was delicious, the asparagus spears, bisque, and ravioli were all great. All very very large portions and very heavy on butter and cream though.

Overall I enjoyed the food, and did not feel like the service was too slow (but again the place wasn't even half full, so there was almost a server for each table). I did feel the hostess and servers need some work/training. Many of them seemed very young, inexperienced, lethargic, and distracted (there were girlfriends coming in and hanging out with the employees in the back of the restaurant while we were eating). They need to be educated on the menu, sizes of dishes, etc. Our server constantly was telling us that dishes we inquired about were "good, but I've never tried it". Glad he was honest, but how do you know know it's good then? I was charged the full lobster ravioli entree price, when I only had cheese ravioli, which was a little annoying. The prices seemed a bit high (although the portions were large) and I personally was annoyed by being handed a menu with no prices on it when nobody could tell me the prices on the menu.

For a nice Italian dinner out I would stick with someplace like Maggianos or Carrabas that are upfront with prices, very reasonable, and have better service for the price!

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

I Will Not Return – I have been to Santa Barbara Italian Cafe several times. The service is generally good, once they get around to you, but you may be seated for 20 minutes before you see anyone. They simply do not seem to care whether you wait (particularly Mamma).

The food is OK at best - you can get much better Italian food nearby for much less money and much better service.

If you have a complaint, you should keep it to yourself. When I made a complaint to a waiter, Mamma came out and started yelling at me saying that I obviously did not know GREAT Italian food and berating me as a customer. After this experience, I will NEVER return.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Mamma-you're not all that – We used to like this place, but as time has gone on we decided it just wasn't worth it. There is constant turnover in servers, who are generally very young and inexperienced--eager to please, but no one has trained them. (We've seen Mamma fire a waiter in the middle of dinner service and they all look like they are terrified of her.) Our last trip there the hostess (friend of Mamma) kept people waiting even though there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. She was folding napkins and pouring water instead of tending to the people wanting to be seated. We observed several of them leaving in disgust.

My husband's chicken dish was fine, although the portions are enough for three people--seems like poor cost management. I ordered the filet mignon because absolutely everything else has a rich heavy sauce on it--couldn't there be a few lighter entrees? Anyway, I've never seen a filet like that. I asked them if that was indeed filet mignon and they assured me it was, but I think they were trying to serve me a top round or something. It was horrible, stringy and tough. A real filet should be almost fork-tender. We bid farewell that night and don't plan to return.

Last thing and OK, maybe this is just me, but they have little stands with table numbers on each table. Really? That would be considered tacky at Denny's. Hey, people, there's only 15-20 tables in the whole place. Are you saying you really can't keep track on the table number without a tacky little sign on the table?

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Not So Good Experience – I have to agree with clearlycanadian's description of "mamma." First and last visit to this restaurant. The food was ok, nothing special to note. Upon arrival we were told there was a ten minute wait. The restaurant was about a third full. After asking about the wait, the answer we received was "the kitchen is backed up." The service by far was sub-par. We asked for bread that was suppose to be there prior to our meal and after the third request, half way though the meal, we finally received the piece of rock hard "italian bread." The waiter brought us our meals and quickly rushed off. After waiting and finally getting his attention we asked for ground pepper and parmesan cheese. We later received a small container with crushed red pepper and powder parmesan. Never did I expect to receive pizza condiments. I could go on and on about the service, but I will spare the readers. At any rate after we received our bill, we asked to speak with the manager. She listened to our side and then went and spoke to the waiter. To my surprise she came back with temper flaring and flat out told us after speaking with her employee she came to the conclusion we were just too demanding. She further stated that we were "picking on her waiter." Sorry, if asking for my glass to stay full during the meal service and expecting the waiter to stop by periodically is demanding, I guess I am guilty as charged. Never have I had a manager say to me that I was too demanding and therefore couldn't provide adequate service.

over a year ago

Great pasta! – We love eating here. Everything is good. The desserts are the best!

Sometimes, the service is a little slow. But, it is worth the wait.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Soup Natzi has nothing on Mamma – You think the Soup Natzi in Seinfeld is bad... try going to this restaurant!

Mamma is a terror. She is not accomodating, she takes advantage of her customers and tries to squeeze out every penny from a large group of people. The food was good, and I promise Mamma will think it's great, but I would say it's good. I was told a month in advance that we could pre-order for a group of 25 people and when I called back a week prior to the dinner (after the invites were sent out) to give the final head count, Mamma informed me that they don't pre-order and I should have asked for the correct person when I called. Sorry Mamma- you should train you staff better when they answer the phone. It is certainly not your customers fault. We decided after several argumentative phone calls to make it seperate checks because of the mis-information that I could not pre-order. I took 23 new customers (several are from Friendswood, went to High School here) to her restaurant, everything was going well and she advised the waiter to still charge everyone $25/person, even though it was agreed that it was seperate checks. I was left with 23 confused people and a greedy owner (who coincidentally LEFT for the night and could not be found) of a restaurant that wanted every penny from my guests. The waiter (Craig) was wonderful, attentive and sweet, but none of my guest knew to tip on top of the $25/person for a $12-$15 entree so I don't think he had a very good night. That is unfortunate and he should talk with Mamma or work for someoene who knows the value of word of mouth. There is an Italian restaurant on every corner. I advise you to GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.

over a year ago

Homey and inexpensive BYOB spot for homemade Italian cuisine with a Croatian touch. – The Scene
Casual and welcoming décor complements the strip mall location of this Friendswood favorite. Regulars chat amiably among the wood tables in the open dining room while cheery music plays in the background. Overhead lighting creates a few harsh spots, but the pleasant waitstaff and family atmosphere more than compensate.

The Food
Everything here is made-to-order under the watchful eye of owner and self-taught chef Jordana "mama" Putnik. Start with the exceptional peppered shrimp and seared scallops, served simply with a butter garlic sauce. Expect cream to factor in to many entrees, but the homemade tomato sauce zings with herbs and chunks of tomato. Neapolitan lasagna is a must with thee cheeses; a layering of veal, beef and pork; and marinara sauce. Spicy Sicilian fettuccine is topped with a colorful mix of grilled peppers and jumbo shrimp. Veal, house-cut filets and chicken dishes round out the menu. Finish with a towering slice of homemade carrot cake.


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