The arrival of the beloved restaurant teacher in August
Mama Ricotta Celebrating 30 years in August, it’s a century in restaurant years – and a milestone few in Charlotte have achieved. Since opening on King’s Drive in 1992, the Italian restaurant has hosted birthdays, engagements, graduation dinners, and, for many expectant mothers, the “Last Supper.” Mama Ricotta’s Penne Alla Vodka has earned the nickname “The Inducer” for his rumored ability to start the business. (Seven years ago, the last thing I ate before my daughter was born was a week before she was due.)
Veteran restaurateur Frank Shipley, whose portfolio now includes Midwood Smokehouse, Yafu Kitchen, and Cali Sol, opened Mama Ricotta at the age of 28. The menu included 10 pizzas, 10 pasta, and a handful of desserts that came from his family’s recipes. In a neighborhood dotted with national chains, a few hotels, and a Jiffy Lube, Scibelli hoped Mama would become known for Neapolitan-style pizza.
“At the time, it was just Italian-style dining or a fancy dinner,” he says. “Charlotte didn’t have any high-quality casual Italian restaurants.” It didn’t have many authentic Italian ingredients either. When Scibelli couldn’t find a local vendor for fresh mozzarella, his team learned to make it at home—something they still do to this day.
Skipley remembers one night in the early ’90s when Olympic figure skater Katharina Witt was… He wanted to have dinner at Mama’s restaurant. “This was again When it was 39 seats, and we didn’t take reservations.” “A lady was really pissed off at me for holding a table for Katrina Witt. But she was the first celebrity to come to the restaurant! Since then, he has hosted a large number of local celebrities, athletes, politicians and American Idol The cast.
Mama Ricotta moved to a larger street space in 2002. Since then Scibelli has added a screened patio and expanded the dining room to include 220 seats. The menu of mouthwatering pastas and Neapolitan pizza grew, but staples such as lasagna and rigatoni with meat sauce and pasta primavera remained. Scibelli still uses the family recipe for the Tiramisu and Nutella pie, and expectant moms continue to swear by The Inducer. “We’ve seen long-time clients who get married and have kids come to work for us after 15 years,” Scibelli says. “After 30 years, you really become part of the fabric of society.”