Mama Ricotta’s first opened in 1992 and quickly became a beloved staple of the Charlotte community. Owner and operator Frank Scibelli of FS Food Group has spent decades refining the homestyle Italian dishes he grew up on. Built in SouthPark as the sister restaurant to Mama Ricotta’s, Little Mama’s was created in part to give those further from Midtown another place to taste their unique dishes. It was also created as a place to bring visitors back to the basics. Here, Italian flavors truly shine.
“Little Mama’s is really a distillation of Mama Ricotta’s,” says Scibelli, “almost a prequel, if you will. We’ve spent 30 years sourcing the best ingredients for the original Mama’s, and Little Mama’s is showcasing them in simple and delicious ways.”
Freshly made cheeses, unfiltered olive oil, Brown Cow Parmigiano Reggiano, and USDA Prime beef have all made their way onto the menu alongside other high-quality ingredients. Their kitchen, led by chef Tom Dyrness, uses scratch-made pastas that pair perfectly with their imported ingredients from Italy. Pastry chef Anika Rucker rounds out the food menu with sweet, moist cakes. Guests will find Italian favorites too, like sweet cannoli, warm bread pudding and decadent tiramisu. Little Mama’s even features a mozzarella bar with rotating specials.
“We wanted to bring some really special dishes to the market,” says Scibelli. “The mozzarella presentation for our bar is a made-to-order ball of fior di latte with a drizzle of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Really simple but incredibly delicious.”
Libations and Looks at Little Mama’s
To emphasize the simple food menu, they created a toned-down wine list. They also have a small, yet refined cocktail menu run by head bartender Lindsay Spero.
“The cocktail menu at Little Mama’s has a little more flair than Mama Ricotta’s,” says Scibelli. “Half the menu is very amaro forward, for those that like a good strong drink, and the other half we’ve loaded with seasonal offerings meant to refresh and cleanse the palate.”
Little Mama’s simplicity goes beyond just the food and drink menus. To pay homage to the restaurants where Scibelli ate growing up, Little Mama’s is designed with the same ’70s flair found in lots of Italian-American staples across the Northeast. D3 Studio took elements from Scibelli’s youth and combined them with modern trends. The result is a small, intimate space with a unique feel.
According to Scibelli, “It’s casual, but you could very easily put on formal wear and not feel out of place.”
As the time passes, Scibelli hopes to see Little Mama’s turn into a place where locals can feel at home.
“We’re happiest when our friends, families, and guests are happy and full.”
Guests can enjoy their meal inside in their dining area or out in their sunroom. For those just looking to share small plates and cocktails, they can also enjoy plenty of bar seating. Little Mama’s is even available for takeout and delivery.