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Little Mama's Review in Charlotte: Authentic Italian Cuisine

Updated: May 31

Any time that Charlotte restaurateur, Frank Scibelli, opens a new restaurant, we have to try it. Scibelli has been on the Charlotte restaurant scene since 1992 (google him for some historical info) when he opened his flagship, Mama Ricotta’s. Located on Kings Drive in the Midtown area, Mama Ricotta’s -

Since then, Scibelli has opened several restaurants such as Bad Daddy’s, Cantina 1511 (both of which he later sold), Paco’s Tacos, Midwood Smokehouse, and Yafo Kitchen. He is known for exhaustively doing research before opening a new restaurant concept which has partly led to his restaurants’ success.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Frank a few questions.

What led you to open Lil Mama’s and how did you choose your location?

Little Mama’s Italian was in a lot of ways getting back to my roots. Mama Ricotta’s has a lot of my family recipes, but I wanted Little Mama’s to feel like the restaurants I used to go to in the 70s. We love SouthPark, so when the location opened up so close to our other SouthPark restaurants, it seemed like a good fit

How would you describe the difference between Mama’s and Lil Mama’s?

I usually tell people Little Mama’s is the prequel to Mama Ricotta’s. The emphasis is on simplicity and highlighting excellent ingredients like olive oil, mozzarella and pasta

Given this COVID environment, have the results met your expectations?

My expectations pre COVID were high, but even now I think that our team there has done an exceptional job and we are doing better than a lot of other restaurants in this environment. We’re really thankful for that.

Any thoughts about expanding Lil Mama’s as you have done with other concepts?

It’s always possible. Little Mama’s has a wide appeal and I think could do well in a variety of different markets.

How are Midtown and Yafo doing?

We had a strong to-go business before COVID and so we’ve only ramped that up since.

Any new restaurant concepts on the drawing board?

I always have ideas for new restaurants. The question is always can I find the real estate that works for our needs and a team that can operate it at a high level.

We recently tried Lil Mama’s with our friends, Sam & Heidi, who have been with us for some previous foodie reviews. The restaurant is well-appointed and certainly has the look and feel of an authentic Italian joint. Heidi commented as we sat down, that they have an Italian friend who claims Lil Mama’s is the most authentic in Charlotte.

We were given a spacious booth and greeted by our enthusiastic server, Alexa. Since none of us had dined there before, Alexa, gave us a tour of the menu featuring several fresh pastas made on site and can be paired with a variety of sauce - all Scibelli family recipes. For those wanting something other than pasta, there’s a variety of salads and chicken. Their signature is the mozzarella which is made onsite in their mozzarella bar. You can order it as a great appetizer platter and pair it with accompaniments such as heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil, grilled zucchini,giardiniera and marinated artichoke hearts .The menu is not as expansive as Mama Ricotta’s but still has plenty from which to choose.

Heidi and Beth ordered the Chicken Carciofi which was highly recommended by Alexa. It can be served over polenta, mashed potatoes, or even roasted Brussels sprouts which was Beth’s selection. Both commented that the dish was delicious. They received very generous portions which provided for some good leftovers the next day at home.

Sam got their homemade Lasagna - also a family recipe. I got the fresh radiatore with their homemade meat sauce made with beef, pork, veal, and fresh tomatoes. Radiatore, which is Italian for radiator, was the most unusually-shaped pasta that I had ever tried, and it was delicious.

So will we go back? Most definitely. With the restaurant being located in SouthPark, it’s super convenient. And the reasonable prices, food, service, and ambiance was worth it. Frank Scibelli has hit on success once again.

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