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Mamma Maria breaks with tradition

The East Passyunk restaurant is allowing a la carte dining on weeknights.

First Le Bec-Fin drops the fixed-price mandate and now Mamma Maria?!

After 18 years offering belt-stretching, fixed-price meals, "Mamma Maria" di Marco is allowing a la carte dining Mondays through Thursdays at her restaurant at 1637 E. Passyunk Ave. (215-463-8410).

The dishes on the menu are pretty much the same as those on her $55, five-course prix-fixe: antipasti (including calamari, $12, and sausage and peppers, $8), pastas from $18 to $22, and meat and fish dishes $22 to $30.

Mamma Maria was one of the very few restaurants maintaining a fixed-price-only policy, aside from the buffets. (Vetri is fixed-price-only on Fridays and Saturdays. Know of any others?)

Di Marco joined other East Passyunk restaurateurs tonight at a preview party for Flavors of the Avenue, which on April 24 will assemble 20 food businesses for sampling and fun.