Mamma’s Got a Brand-New Home

Owners Steve and Jamie Khuu Inzunza in front of the touch-screen “beer wall” at the new location of their restaurant, Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta. A “soft opening” will run for two weeks starting at 10 a.m. on Aug. 20. Photos by Sally Kilby

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza and Pasta restaurant will open at its new location. The site is at 1007 Fair Oaks Avenue, across from a Wells Fargo Bank branch and Starbucks.

For the past 14 years, the popular eatery has been serving customers out of a 1,600-square-foot former fast-food restaurant at 710 Fair Oaks Avenue, just south of Bristol Farms. The original site closes Aug. 19.

Owners Jamie Khuu Inzunza and Steve Inzunza said that Aug. 20 would be the date of their restaurant’s “soft opening.”

“It will be a little imperfect,” Steve said at the new location this past Sunday, “but it will allow us the opportunity to test new menu items and introduce the self-serve beer and wine wall.”

“At the same time,” Jamie added, “we’ll be working out kinks in new systems and evaluating workflow processes.”

A grand opening is scheduled for September.

“People can order from the menu next week,” said Jamie, “and try the beverage wall and new appetizers.”

Mamma’s will continue to offer pizza and an extensive menu of Italian-themed foods, the couple said. This includes more than 20 types of pastas, calzones, sandwiches and appetizers. As at the original location, onsite dining, take-out and delivery service along with catering will be available. 

At the new location, a touch-screen self-service wall of spigots will dispense 24 brands of beer and several varieties of wines and cocktails. The seating capacity has increased from 26 to 140.

A private party room with a capacity of 80 also is part of the new venue. A covered “piazza” along Fair Oaks Avenue will seat 30. Parking options are greatly expanded.

The idea behind the new Mamma’s is to create a place for all ages to meet, relax and enjoy great food, the owners said.

“Our vision for this place is to introduce something new that is family-friendly,” Jamie said. “Most places that serve this selection of alcohol are more like a pub. This is a family restaurant that can also offer craft beers in a state-of-the-art way.” 

“We really don’t have anything in the city that is a central point for gathering,” she noted. “We wanted to develop a place where people are comfortable and can hang out that’s not a high-end restaurant or a bar.”

The new restaurant is located in an historic 1934 building. Its original name, the W.J. Filley Building, is inscribed at the top of the edifice’s facade. Since 2018, the couple has been renovating the 5,000-square-foot site. Its previous occupant was Koi Loungewear, a women’s clothing boutique that moved to nearby Sierra Madre.

The Inzunzas engaged a local architect and contractor to capture their vision for the new restaurant, they said.

Steve said that Mamma’s is the only independent pizza shop in the city. “As a result,” he said, “we have full latitude to create signature local favorites.”

“The food is unique with an authentic flare,” he said. “Mamma’s is known for its superior quality and flavor that rival a full-service dining establishment, with a fresh local twist.”

In addition, Jamie said, the sausage used in preparing pizza toppings and menu items is from a family-owned, USDA-certified facility in Monrovia.

Mamma’s will continue to serve authentic, New York-style pizza, Steve said. This involves aging and hand-tossing the dough and firing the pizza in a brick-lined oven.

To ensure the quality, Jamie said, they periodically take what she called a “pizza tour” of New York City, “to make sure our pizza is a good as or better than that in New York.”

“In addition,” Steve said, “when customers support a mom-and-pop shop, a third more of every dollar goes to the community.” Independent businesses are more engaged in their communities, he added.

In fact, the Alhambra couple has been heavily involved in South Pasadena since opening Mamma’s in 2005. They have supported numerous school, city and nonprofit endeavors. 

Notably, the restaurant has also served as an informal workforce training academy for up to 300 youths, the couple said. For many employees, Mamma’s is their first job.

Jamie has served as Chamber of Commerce chair and is currently chair of its Economic Development Committee.

She was one of 30 women honored in 2012 as a successful San Gabriel Valley businesswoman.

Steve has also been part of several community organizations, including the South Pasadena Kiwanis Club and the Relay For Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society.

Many community members want to see Mamma’s open soon. A number have stopped by to follow their progress and help, the couple said. One seasoned businessman stops by weekly to coach them and offer tips.

The waits ends on Aug. 20.

The face of the newly relocated Mamma’s in the historic W.J. Filley Building on Fair Oaks Avenue.