The Big Mamma Group was started by Tigrane and Victor, two Frenchmen with a love for Italian food. They opened their first restaurant – Mamma Gorda – in the south of France but quickly aspired to break into the Parisian dining scene. While Italian restaurants are a-plenty in Paris, the Big Mamma Group brought something different to the table: ‘a 100% Italian trattoria, with fresh products brought in from Italy, and a 100% Italian staff’. They even rented 20 apartments to house their staff!
The Big Mamma Group opened their first restaurant – East Mamma – in the 11th arrondissement of Paris and quickly found people lining up at the door, a now common sight at all of their restaurants. They soon opened their second restaurant, Ober Mamma, this time including a fun cocktail list featuring Italian liquors and a huge wood-fire pizza oven for their Neapolitan pizzas. In order to make fresh, authentic Italian dough, they opened Mamma Primi, specializing in primi piatti. Then, they decided to create a real Italian caffé in the form of Biglove, serving up 100% gluten free pizzas, brunch with an Italian twist, and coffee all day.
Now the Big Mamma Group consists of nearly 240 Italians working in their restaurants in Paris and a couple of newer additions, the trendy Pizzeria Popolare – offering their most inexpensive pizzas yet – and their latest and biggest venue, Pink Mamma. With so many Big Mamma choices, it may be hard to pick which to try first. Here is a breakdown of some of the different restaurants to help you decide which Big Mamma is right for you:
Pink Mamma is the newly opened trattoria by the Big Mamma Group, located in Pigalle. It is housed in an appropriately colored pink tiled, four story building. Arrive early because there are always people already lined up waiting for the restaurant to open. Before the lunch service on the day I visited, the staff came outside onto the street and chanted a big buongiorno to everyone waiting. Then one by one, a staff member escorted each party to their table.
I was taken to the top floor, which was reminiscent of a greenhouse, with sun streaming through the windows onto a room bursting with plants, flowers, and vines draping the chandeliers and wooden rafters. In the middle of it all, stands a beautiful gold brass, green and marble bar. Each floor is decorated differently, ensuring no two visits are the same.
No trip to Pink Mamma would be complete without a visit to their underground speakeasy. Enter ‘No Entry’ through a fridge to a warm, dark space reminiscent of the prohibition era. The menu consists of a map of Italy, with each cocktail coming from a certain region using local ingredients. As an Australian, I was excited to have finally found an espresso martini in Paris – and it comes served in a grole no less!
Pink Mamma – 20bis Rue de Douai, 75009. Mon – Fri, 11.45am – 2.15pm, 7-10.45pm. Saturday & Sunday 12-3.15pm, 7-11pm. Metro: Pigalle (lignes 2 & 12).
Pizzeria Popolare embodies the original vision of the Big Mamma Group: to create trattorias popolare. Pizzeria Popolare is centrally located in the 2nd arrondissement and is famous for its 5€ margherita, just like you would get in Naples. For those of you on a budget, this is the place to go!
The restaurant is made up of communal tables and seats at the bar, giving it a more convivial spirit than the group’s other restaurants. It claims to have the biggest bar in Paris, with 500 different types of alcohol lining the restaurant’s walls. At Pizzeria Popolare you have the option to add bonus truffe fraîche to you pizza for an extra 5€ (and it would be silly not to!)
Pizzeria Popolare – 111 rue Réaumur, 75002. Mon – Weds 11.45am – 2.15pm, 6.30 – 10.30pm, Thurs & Fri 11.45am – 2.15pm, 6.30 – 10.45pm, Sat 12 – 3.15pm, 6.30 – 10.45pm, Sun 12 – 3.15pm, 6.30 – 10.30pm. 01 42 21 30 91. Metro: Bourse (ligne 3).
For those looking to dine sur la terrace, Mamma Primi is the spot for you. The restaurant in the 17th arrondissement is more intimate than Pink Mamma and Pizzeria Popolare, making it an ideal date spot. Read more about Mamma Primi here.
Biglove Caffé represents the Big Mamma Group’s venture into the Paris brunch scene. Located in the hip Marais, its biggest drawcard is its surprisingly delicious 100% gluten free pizzas. The restaurants serves brunch, lunch and dinner and there are other gluten free choices available as well. Read more about Biglove Caffé here.
Written for HiP Paris.