CHARLOTTE – Described as a prequel to Mama Ricotta’s, a Charlotte staple since 1992, Little Mama’s Italian Kitchen is serving classic Italian-American dishes out of the Porter Building across from the SouthPark Mall.
The concept celebrates the 1960s and 1970s Italian restaurants restaurateur Frank Scibelli, operations guru Stephanie Kalish and chef partner Tom Dyrness enjoyed growing up that also inspired their careers.
Scibelli, Kalish and Dyrness swapped stories and family recipes to craft a menu featuring classic, comforting dishes like scratch-made pastas and mozzarella to recreate their version of the neighborhood Italian restaurants that defined their youth.
“Little Mama’s is a heartfelt project envisioned and produced by my team and me,” Scibelli said. “Growing up, our standards for hospitality were shaped by Sundays after church with our Italian families behind the stove or at one of our friend’s restaurants down the street cooking their family recipes. Little Mama’s embodies the simple yet delicious flavors of our childhood.”
Front of house operations will be run by general manager Bradley McClain, a returning FS Food Group team member and most recently general manager at Good Food on Montford. McClain has not only been instrumental in prepping daily operations but he has also played a substantial role in assembling the wine list.
With a full bar, sunroom and dining room, there are a variety of spaces to enjoy a specialty cocktail like a Spritz with Aperol, Prosecco, fizzy water, orange, and olives, or an Amaro Boulevardier with Bourbon, Cynar, and Cappelletti; a glass of bubbles, red, white, or sweet wine; or a classic Peroni.
Guests are encouraged to settle into one of the dining rooms or cozy up at the “Mozz Bar” where patrons can watch the artisans at work, up close and personal.
Notable details of the space include the zinc bar, a staple of high-end bars in the 1900s with their unexpected elegance, and photos of the crew’s culinary history in the entryway, including snapshots of the mothers and grandmothers of Scibelli, Dyrness and Kalish cooking for their families.
The menu boasts a selection of starters, salads, “parms,” pastas (pappardelle, ziti, fettuccine, radiatore) made in-house daily, sides and entrees. Highlights include Broiled Whole Cauliflower with lemon tahini, Calabrian agrodolce and bagna cauda; and Little Mama’s Big Ribeye with broiled marrow bones, roasted garlic and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil.