Little Mama’s Italian Kitchen, Mama Ricotta’s sister concept, is now open in SouthPark.
Restauranteur and owner Frank Scibelli calls Little Mama’s a “prequel” to Mama Ricotta’s, a Charlotte staple since it opened in 1992.
The new Italian-American restaurant is a representation of the restaurants Scibelli and partners Stephanie Kalish and Tom Dyrness remember dining at while growing up in the Northeast in the ’60s and ’70s. And you can see that in the details at Little Mama’s — old-school booths, decades-old family photographs, and a mozzarella bar (a.k.a. the “mozz bar”).
While Little Mama’s celebrates many old Italian-American traditions, and continues to serve some of Mama Ricotta’s best hits like penne alla vodka, it offers plenty of newness to Charlotte’s dining scene, too. From fresh mozzarella and broiled bone marrow to an indoor/outdoor sunroom, let’s take a closer look at SouthPark’s newest restaurant.
Timeline: Little Mama’s will stick with takeout service (4-9 p.m. daily) until it receives its ABC permit in the next week or two. Then it will open at 50 percent capacity for dinner dine-in service; one week later, it’ll open for lunch, too. While running its takeout-only program, Little Mama’s won’t serve certain menu items like its mozz bar. To order takeout, call 980-209-0323 or visit littlemamasitalian.com.
[Related Agenda guide: 5 best Italian restaurants in Charlotte]
Menu: Crowd favorites such as penne alla vodka, lasagna, and Nutella pie are all still on the menu at Little Mama’s — plus several additions. Standouts from chef Tom Dyrness include the pappardelle with San Marzano tomato sauce and the big ribeye with broiled marrow bones, your choice of pasta, and served family style. All pastas and entrées come priced for an individual or for a whole family.
- Amma’s ravioli ($15/28) – cheese ravioli stuffed with ricotta, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan Reggiano, Pecorino Romani, and your choice of sauce
- Lasagna ($14) – Southern Italian-style lasagna with layers of ground beer, veal, pork sausage, and three cheeses
- Broiled whole cauliflower ($9)
- Chef Tom’s broiled chicken ($18/32)
- Nutella pie ($9) topped with a dulce de leche and chocolate drizzle
- Mama’s olive oil cake ($11) – served with a limoncello sorbetto
[Related Agenda story: Why there’s been an explosion of Italian restaurants in Charlotte]
Mozzarella bar: Similar to a sushi bar, Little Mama’s has a six-seat mozzarella bar where guests have a view of the kitchen happenings. The mozz bar will serve a rotating selection of mozzarella, including Fior di Latte ($7) and Stracciatella ($8).
For $21, you can get a made-to-order fresh ball of mozzarella with two accompaniments (oven-roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts, etc.) and a drizzle of top-notch olive oil on top. You can also get all of this at your table.
Drinks: After Little Mama’s is open for dine-in service (and has its ABC permit), you’ll notice the restaurant has more cocktail options than Mama Ricotta’s. Highlights include:
- Aperol Spritz – my favorite from my days living in Milan, Italy
- Amaro Boulevardier – made with bourbon, Cynar, and Cappelletti
- 60+ wine or bubbly options
- 4 draft beers (including an Italian Peroni) and 4 beers by the bottle
Space: It’s located in the former Living Kitchen space in the same building as Diamonds Direct at 4521 Sharon Road, Suite 175. Find it just across the street from SouthPark mall.
At about 3,600-square-feet, Little Mama’s is much smaller than Mama Ricotta’s, but big windows and antique mirrors make the space feel much larger. Considering that, from now on, Mama Ricotta’s should be referred to as “Big Mama’s.” You heard it here first — and I heard it from the team at Little Mama’s first.
Now let’s take a look around Little Mama’s: