In March 2008, cousin Q suggested we try Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza and Pasta in South Pasadena for lunch. I'm rather indifferent to most pizza, except for the occasional nostalgic pangs for Giordano's Chicago-style stuffed spinach deep dish and Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana - Monterey Park if I want something more gourmet. Not to say that I don't like pizza, just that I'm pretty easy to please.
The mamma in the name is not the original mamma of the restaurant. Cousin Q told me there was a bit of controversy with the restaurant. A quick Google search after I got home turned up several Chowhound posts about a dissolved partnership, rumors of embezzlement and sabotage, and dueling pizza parlors. But since I'm not in the habit of writing about rumors, I will point to this Pasadena Weekly article that indicates it wasn't all speculation.
The current owners, a husband and wife team, bought the business from the original partners, one of whom named the restaurant after his Italian mamma. The pizza recipes were supposed to be handed over with the sale, but the new owners were given faulty recipes instead. It took weeks for the other partner to sneak out the original recipes, but by then, the new owners had hired a pizza consultant and the restaurant's new recipes were supposedly better than the originals. Pretty crazy, right? It gets crazier, the not-so-stellar partner's daughter, granddaughter of the mamma in the name, then opened a pizza restaurant on the same street, the next block over and named it Nonna Pizzeria - South Pasadena, after her grandmamma.
Now, it's really crazy! And competitive!
Or is it?