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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

This Zoya's a Big Mama

MTThe new Mama Zoya's large hall has a billiards space in one corner.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall when Mayor Yury Luzhkov called for the removal of all floating commercial enterprises from the Moscow River last September. "These barges disfigure the face of the city," he said at a City Hall meeting.

Half a year later, the hodgepodge of boats and barges remains moored at various points along the river, but it would seem at least one veteran floating restaurant isn't taking any chances: Mama Zoya has just opened a second eponymous restaurant on Taganskaya Ulitsa.

Mama Zoya has been serving up bargain-priced Georgian shashliks and khachapuri for more than a decade. Over those years, it has won a loyal following, in no small part due to the wonderful views the floating restaurant commands across the river to Gorky Park.

The namesake can't boast anything of the sort, being housed in a windowless basement. This in itself would not be a great drawback, but unfortunately, there are other problems. First and foremost is the dining room's shabby state. Although the restaurant only opened late last year, the dark, red carpet is worn and has holes burnt in some spots. The furniture and fittings are cheap and don't really match, but this is meant to be a cheap 'n' cheerful kind of place, after all. The only thing is that although cheap, it's not particularly cheerful -- it's so large that you feel like you're eating in an empty banquet hall; it needs a lot of customers to feel full.

The food is similar to that served at the original Mama Zoya, perhaps better. All the classics are there, at bargain prices. The spicy and tasty red-bean lobio costs 80 rubles -- and the adzhapsandal (160 rubles), satsivi with eggplant (150 rubles) and kharcho lamb soup (170 rubles) are all equally good value. There are 10 varieties of shashlik ranging from 200 to 350 rubles. An large house-special selection of shashliks weighs in at 2.5 kilograms and goes for 3,500 rubles. Five sorts of khachapuri range from 100 rubles for a small, 150-gram individual portion to 400 rubles for a half-kilo big mama.

There is still no liquor license, so no wine or spirits. Beer starts at 80 rubles for a half-liter of Sibirskaya Korona.

29/1 Taganskaya Ul., 729-4181, 911-1516, 11 a.m.-midnight, M. Taganskaya.