Sitting in Mamma Lucia — nestled into a corner storefront on a quiet strip of Foster Avenue in Flatbush — is like being a guest in owner Giorgio Migliaccio’s home. Italian music plays softly in the background while unique bric-a-brac, including taxidermy and aged photographs of celebrities, adorn every available spot on the white stucco walls. A peak at those walls reveals a “who’s who” of the bistro’s famous patrons: Look, there’s Giorgio with Jimmy Smits! Is that Mickey Rourke I spy? And there’s Luciano Pavarotti!
But the tchotchkes — as eye catching as they are — won’t distract you from the important matter at hand: the food.
The menu offers authentic Neapolitan cuisine made like Giorgio’s mother used to do it back in Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples. In fact, the restaurant’s name isn’t the only homage to his mamma — more than a few dishes are named after Lucia and, with you in mind, dear reader, we tried every one.
The Chicken Mamma Lucia ($14.75) was made just how we like it — perfectly tender, juicy and smothered in melted mozzarella. Because it was served with a light side salad, we didn’t feel too guilty about all that cheese.
The Veal Mamma Lucia ($16.75) was a nice specimen — cooked just right and topped with a generous portion of mushrooms and — you guessed it — mozzarella. It was a delectable pattern.
If that’s not enough, the entrees come with a side of pasta, and every inch of our linguini with clam sauce was dripping with olive oil and topped with succulent bits of fresh clam, which made us feel as if we were on the Neapolitan coastline enjoying the frutti di mare.
To drink, Mamma Lucia keeps it simple and to the point — red or white wine. We went with a bottle of white, which was a nice, light touch to the meat, and our waiter was attentive enough to make sure our glasses were always full till the last drop.
For dessert, there’s no signature Mamma Lucia dish, but if we had to pick one, it would be the cheesecake ($6.75). The thick ricotta-based slice was the perfect denouement to a satisfying meal.
For more than 30 years now, this Flatbush institution has been treating its guests with as much care and attention to detail that it puts into each dish. Your gregarious host treats you like an old, dear friend, and it’s a rare treat to get that warmth nowadays.
It reminded us of the last time we saw Pavorotti — at the Colosseum … at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. We ended that night much the same way we ended this one … yelling for an encore.
Mamma Lucia [1701 Foster Ave. at E. 17th Street in Flatbush, (718) 434-9858]. Open seven days for dinner. Accepts credit cards.