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Oct 6, 2007 10:09 PM

South Pas Pizza Battle Royale: Mamma vs. Nonna

2 couples. 2 pizzas. 2 orders of garlic knots. 4 South Pasadena residents decided to settle the score once and for all. Where can you find the best local pizza? First taste test: the knots. Mamma's: crispy exterior, great garlic flavor, excellent chunky sauce. Nonna's: larger knots, doughy, strong garlic taste yet overwhelmingly greasy, watery sauce (Ragu?). The ultimate taste test: the pepperoni pizza from each. Nonna's: First bite doughy and chewy, good flavor, but slim ratio of ingredients to crust. Crust had slight chlorine flavor. Mamma's: More toppings, crispier, excellent flavor, high quality cheese and meat, great ratio of crust to toppings. The gourmand 4 has ordered frequently from both...and have settled the score. Mamma's is the winner!

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  1. Tony's in San Marino is better than both.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Um, Tony's don't deliver to South Pas. And even if they did, Tony's is very over-rated. As a former San Marino resident I ordered from Tony's many times. Too much crust per topping ratio, and slightly greasy. Tony's is a nostalgia trip for San Marino and San Gabriel residents, that's all.

      1. re: southpasgourmand

        Agree about Tony's being over-rated. Their pizza is flavorless and greasy IMHO!

      2. re: ipsedixit

        Tony's is also a different style of pizza. It's more like a very thin NY style pie with almost spray painted on sauce and cheese.

        1. re: Kevitivity

          Tony's has both types: Neopolitan and thick crust.

      3. Somewhat of a sad commentary if Nonna's & Mamma's are the best pizza's that S. Pasadena has to offer. Especially if Mamma's being run by Asian's is the better of the two. Live in the general area and tried both and no point in returning.

        I'll drive a little further and go to Casa Bianca over those two any day except Sunday-Monday when its closed.

        Agree with the above poster---Tony's in San Marino for a far better pizza than M's & N's

        Best garlic knots are at Pizza Place California....big and garlicky and they're free and all you can eat. (why should you pay for some scraps of dough brushed with olive oil and garlic?)
        Pizza Place California
        303 S. Mission Drive
        San Gabriel, CA 91776
        (626) 570-9622

        (pictured: Casa Bianca sausage & garlic pizza pie)

        13 Replies
        1. re: monku

          Hey Monku, how is the pizza at Pizza Place California?
          I actually prefer the stomboli and the other "rolled" offerings at Mamma's over the pizza slices. Although I have not been there in a real long while. Prefer Carmine's and my new fave, Bollini's. Oh, and the Khatchapouri at Big Mama's & Papa's.

          1. re: WildSwede

            Monku, for shame slamming minorities for their out-of-bounds culinary attempts...C'mon pal, we are the world... sing it - c'mon - I know you can...

            Hey Swede, one of my wife's New York born&bred workmates swears that Momma's is happening - especially their strombolis. He says the bend and chew on the crust and ratios on the pizza are spot-on and they even have the details down to the tableclothes that remind him of home...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              I have found them to be delicious, straight down to the tomato sauce they give you on the side. Stay away from the slices and get the stromboli.... yum!! ;-)

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Hey, me no slammin the minorities....I'm Asian too. I just think its kind of ironic that they're making better pizza than old Nonna's.

                Read something on this board that Nonna sold out to Mamma's and something about they didn't get all the original recipes from Nonna.

                1. re: monku

                  Hey Monku - with a tagname like "Monku," I kinda figured that part and was just kiddin' you - was going to change your name to, "Monku yuuna." :) Kidding aside, I heard the same thing - in fact it was from my wife's work associate. And he's glad that Momma's did their own thing because he says they're better than Nonna. Mata miru miso shiru!

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    No harm no foul.

                    Drove by Mamma's "Brickoven" this morning and again laughed when I thought about their faux plastic brick oven covering....but will give their stromboli's a try on you rec.

                    Spent a number of years in the restaurant biz so I'm curious about everything when I go into a place (I'll even take a look out back at their dumpster to see what kind of stuff they're using if its good) and I'm always searching out who's in charge and what they're doing. So I noticed Korean owners running Mamma's....I was surprised there were 10 people working behind the counter.

                    Asians run restaurants of all kinds. For 10-12 years a Chinese lady used to own Billy's Deli in Glendale. I introduced myself to owners of Greenfields Churrascaria and Agoura Churrascaria and they're both Asians and related to each other. Number of sushi places around town are run by Koreans. Vietnamese friend told me many of his countrymen come to this country and open donut shops because they only need to know a limited amount of English to sell donuts....people come in and "point and pick".

                    1. re: monku

                      "Korean owners running Mamma's?"

                      I don't think so. Last time I was there, I saw a bunch of white people, and one Asian lady with the last name Inzunza. Not sure how that is Korean to you.

              2. re: WildSwede

                Haven't been to PPC in a while, but when garlic knots are mentioned they had the best. I remember they had traditional and gourmet pizza offerings and I usually went there for their pasta dishes.

                I was going to mention Carmines since its on the "Fair Oaks Pizza Row" strip. Good traditional pizza.

                Keep meaning to get to Bollini's, but Chinese food is always the priority when I'm in that area.

                1. re: monku

                  Great, thanks!
                  Yes, Carmine's is my favorite in the SGV (although there are some others that are good as well). You may not know this, but you can get their pizza thin crust as well - just be sure to always order pizza (any pizza) well done and your tastebuds will be singing!!

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    I have been to Carmine's several times, but I can't get past the Gumbi. I go in every time telling myself I am going to get something else, but my mouth always says Gumbi. Now I will have to try the pizza.

                    1. re: Velvet Elvis

                      I got the gumbi once and promptly decided that the next time I would get it with sausage instead of the meatballs (not a huge clump-o-meat-all-mashed-together fan) but can't get past the pizza!! ;-) And the soups and the buffalo chicken tenders (hot only, not on the menu) and the garlic-cheese bread and the... ;-) Their bruschetta is really good as well (different but good). Have you ever been to their happy hour? Great prices - you can get a bambino pizza with 2 toppings for something like $3.75. Lots of other great specials as well - mozz sticks for $1.75. Unheard of!!

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        I agree with the swede, Carmines is the best pizza in southpas
                        Try their eggplant sando with sauteed salami and sausage, probably my current favorite hot sando in town.

              3. re: monku

                Your recommended spot, Pizza Place, is run by Norman obviously it doesn't really matter!!!! :-)

              4. You forgot Papa Johns Pizza on the S. Pasadena Fair oaks "Pizza Row". I had the $11.99 Meat Lovers Pizza a couple weeks ago from there and it was more memorable than Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza* & Nonna.

                *Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza is a false come on. I looked at their ovens and they're run of the mill gas pizza ovens with faux brick plastic surrounding them. (notice on their website there's no mention of their "brick" ovens except in their name).

                Another one of my disappointments is that California Pizza Kitchen ovens are no longer wood fired--they've converted their ovens to gas burning.

                1 Reply
                1. re: monku

                  There have been a couple of comments regarding Mamma’s using a fake brick oven …out of curiosity; I decided to inquire on my last visit. The people there were really nice and one guy took me into their kitchen and showed me the brick oven. Surprisingly, their oven is actually made of brick both inside and outside…no plastic here…all brick and mortar. The pies actually cook on the stone. I looked at the brand and it’s a Marsal oven, manufactured in New York. He told me that this oven is the King of brick ovens…best in the industry. Had roma slice and tried a pasta this time – chicken pesto manicotti – very tasty, incredible sauce – apparently my pasta was baked in the brick oven too –I saw it come out of there. Will be coming back.

                2. I actually use to be a big fan on Old Mamma's/Nonna's. But I got a slice there towards the end of the day and it was BAD. Then I went to Mamma's and it was better.

                  I prefer the garlic knots at Nonna's. I figure that greasy taste was the garlic infused olive oil the knots sit in.

                  Overall what usually will get me to Mamma's is the convenient parking.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bigtums

                    the parking is convenient but has been full pretty much every time i've gone (admittedly at busy dinner times).

                    worse, they have an interior layout/workflow problem so when it gets busy, it takes forever to get to the counter to pick up take out, much less put in an order.

                    but to their credit, their consistency seems to have settled down, and as posted by many, their strombolis/rolls are tasty and good value.

                    and occassionally, they have coupons in the local pennysaver so you can get a 2-topping 28" pizza (about 2 1/2 times as big as an 18") for 25 bucks, which is a great value.

                  2. I like Mamma's better than Nonna's (particularly the knots), but the food is very similar. Getting out of the parking lot at Mamma's can be a PITA. Luckily they deliver. One place no one has mentioned is Costco down the road in Alhambra, which serves excellent pizza for $11. Not quite as tasty as Mamma's but a tremendous value.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Terahertz

                      just make a RIGHT turn out of Mamma's and another right after Bristol Farms and you'll be fine