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Apr 15, 2007 04:37 PM

Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza: Good NY style pie in Pasadena?

Last months Pasadena Weekly has a favorable write up.

[ article deleted after scolding.. ]

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  1. It's in South Pasadena, by the way.
    I'm not sure you're if it's allowed or useful to post an entire newspaper review -- better to give us your own impressions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chowpatty

      Lived on Upper West Side for twelve years. Toured all over US. Mamma's has best West of the Hudson. Even better than a couple of slices I tried back there last week. New owners are the bomb. Hire and train local kids. Do it.

    2. I think people should check this place out and see what they think. I went and I'll say it's certainly "good" pizza. I'm in no way qualified to judge whether it's authentic NY pie, though. I also went at what might have been an 'off' time, like mid-afternoon and so I was settling for a pre-made pizza which was finished in the oven. My slices were very good, maybe not great, but big, good tomato sauce and the crust while not crisp, had a nice hint of char to it.

      1. Note that there's been an ownership change at Mamma's (about two months ago). Before that, it was pretty great, but the old guy making the pizza was forced out and the new staff isn't as good.

        Great news is that he just opened his own place down the block (about a block south on Fair Oaks) called Nonna's Pizza. Haven't been in yet, but a neighbor says it's every bit as good as Mamma's was last year.

        Guess South Pas is having a Pizza War.

        18 Replies
        1. re: ruddy

          This is great news because I noticed the change of ownership in December and I could tell that the quality went down a bit. I went back a few times since the place was bought out and each time I noticed the difference. It's good pizza, but it just isn't the same as when the original Italian guy and staff made it because it was a lot more tastier.

          I'll be trying out Nonna's real soon.

          1. re: thebat

            I have only been once since December, but cannot recall noticing a difference. Went sporadically prior to that. I have always prefered the strombolis over the slices and HAVE to get their garlic rolls. Will have to try Nonna's - thanks for the info!!

            1. re: WildSwede

              I use to LOVE their garlic knots before the owner change. I actually ordered a huge pan for a family get together right after the change in ownership. I didn't know the change had happened and when I brought the "new" knots to the family they weren't too impressed.

              1. re: bigtums

                Darn it! I have not had them since the change, that is sad to hear!

            2. re: thebat

              I started going to Mamma’s about six months ago. So, I did visit right after the new family bought the place - after the previous owners had a partnership split (one of the old partners introduce herself). They new owners were struggling – few employees (friends jumping in to help), power outages and missing orders/confusion.
              I didn’t return for a couple a months, but then in March I went to a friend’s party and it had been catered by Mamma’s Brick Oven. The food was amazing – better than under the old owners. The garlic knots had more flavor, the sauces were richer in flavor and thicker and the pizza crust was like a dessert. I have now returned to Mamma’s for my weekly fix. (Sometimes multiply times in a week). The owners are great. They love to have me try their new sauces and appetizers – they really listen to my input. I recommend this place to people who want Real New York style Italian food! It’s the best!

            3. re: ruddy

              Would love a review of Nonna's...

              1. re: ruddy

                Thanks! Must try Nonna's now. This is interesting . . . a pizza battle in Old South Pas. The article in the Weekly say's ownership changed and something about a quarrel over getting the original recipes.

                1. re: wilham

                  I was headed towards Nonna's for lunch yesterday, but the lure of my most favorite pizza in the 'hood, Carmine's, was too much to resist. Therefore, Nonna's is being saved for another time!!

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    You did not miss anything. I tried a couple of slices at Nomma's - the pizza was ok - but I have been spoiled -Mamma's Brick Oven has far superior food. Try it for yourself. I am sure that you will be heading back to Mama’s.

                    1. re: frankieJ

                      Will do, thanks! Either way, Carmine's still has the far superior pizza (altho not NY style) in the area. You can get theirs thin crust, though.

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Sorry, I just cannot understand the Carmine's love. We tried it once & it seemed average, at best. Will try Mamma's & report my 2 cents worth.

                        1. re: Babette

                          That's fine - we all have our opinions. Did you get it cooked well done? Delivered or eaten in-house? You should maybe try it again. Their sauce is very flavorful and the toppings are fresh and delicious. Crust is great, too.

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            Take-out & I know that's never the best. Though my current fave Angeli Caffe's sausage/onion pizza holds up well for take-out.Do you recommend well-done?

                            1. re: Babette

                              I have never had Angeli's. Will have to try. I, personally, have found that when I order a pizza cooked well done, the flavors seem to be more pronounced and "done" (does that make sense?). I always order my pizzas (and fries and onion rings) well done. I love Carmine's crust and their sauce is one of the best out there. If you live in the area, they have a great happy hour in which you can get a bambino pizza (4 very decent sized slices - about 12") with 2 toppings for $3.75. You can get it either thin or regular thick crust. I like them both, but usually get the regular crust. Pepperoni & Mushrooms is my fave. My friend swears by their sausage and always gets that with onions. I get their pizza delivered and take it home when I eat in-house and like both very well, although I have to say that of course, fresh, bubbling, burn the roof of your mouth, right out of the oven, is best! It is the only pizza that I can eat at room temp the next day!

                              1. re: WildSwede

                                I only went to Nonna's once, and it was closed. Anyway, the pizza was lousy, and I'll never go back again! ;-)

                                None of this discussion motivates me to try Nonna's or the new Mama's, but I do strongly agree with WildSwede about ordering pizza well-done, so I'll try his favorite place, Carmine's, in my ridiculous, money-wasting, gas-wasting quest to find decent (commercial) pizza in Southern California.

                                Is Carmine's on the east side of Fair Oaks and just north of the 110, near an ice-cream store (if memory serves)?

                      2. re: frankieJ

                        Nothing personal, but the family running Nonna's IS the family from Mamma's that was forced out (note the picture of Mamma is no longer on display at Mamma's but is at Nonna's). The daughter of the old owner (older gentleman with partial facial paralysis) is now running the show, Hence the name Nonna (grandma) not Mamma (mother). The Italian family was forced out sometime in December and just opened Nonna's in April. Personally I did notice a change in the Pizza at Mamma's, it wasn't bad, just different. I do prefer Nonna's to the new Mamma's, but hopefully both can coexist!

                2. When someone said that there's a pizza war in South Pasadena, they weren't kidding. Read with caution regarding new chowhound users.

                  I have yet to go to Nonna's. I shall check it out next week and report back in a new thread, if one hasn't already been made by another established chowhounder.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: thebat

                    So I went to Nonna's. The pizza there is very similar to that at Mama's Brick Oven. Maybe the same. I really couldn't see a difference, which for me was a bit disappointing. So there's not much of pizza war I guess. Maybe a cold war? So yeah . . . my impression was same toppings more or less (although Mama's seemed to have a better meat-combo slice at least when I went) and same crust, same etc. I think the pizza battle needs to heat up, these were good pizzas, but not destination quality stuff. BTW - Nonna's has the "Nonna," but Mama's has the "Grandmother," although I didn't double check to see if they were exactly the same. Oh yeah, and when I went to pay, my order at Nonna's seemed to cost just about the same as for a nearly identical one at Mama's. How bizarre.

                  2. Searched out Mamma's tonight based on your thread, luckily I didn't go out of my way, I live just outside of South Pas.
                    Walk in about 5:30pm and the kitchen is bustling with 12-13 employees working behind the counter. Noticed the owner is an Asian lady named Jamie. We ordered the ex-large 18" margherita pizza ($17), the antipasto salad and some of the much touted garlic knots. First thing I'm looking at is the "brick oven", which I notice is a basically a brick fascade built around the two ovens. The margherita pizza looked great until the first thing my wife said was they use tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes..the sauce wasn't bad, but not my idea of a true margherita pizza. Being from NY I expect thin crust which is what I got, but looking at the bottom of the crust it was cooked well and dark, but there was no crisp crunch to it like a NY pizza should have and it came right from the oven to our table. The garlic knots were tasty but I think they could have been a bit heftier like the ones at Pizza Place California in the San Gabriel Mission district. $1,75 for 6 the size of your thumb and a side of sauce. They must do a brisk delivery business because I saw 3 delivery cars leaving the same time.

                    Think if I go again I'd just get it by the slice since they have different pies on display to be purchased by the slice. If you need a 28" pie, that seems to be one of their specialties is too.

                    I'm sure the pizza wars are hot and heavy there within a two block area on the same side of the street you got Nozza's, Pappa John's and Mamma's.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: monku

                      Yes, neither Mamma's nor Nonna's had a 'crispy crunch' to their respective crusts.

                      1. re: monku

                        Tried Mama's on a trip to Bristol Farms.

                        Was not duly impressed.

                        Would rather drive the couple of miles east on Huntington Dr. and get the stuff at Tony's.

                        1. re: monku

                          I have always prefered the pizza rolls over their pizza slices. AND I always have everything cooked well done.