The Blog

By Jennifer Thomas – Senior Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal

Veteran Restaurateur Frank Scibelli is bringing the tastes of his childhood to south Charlotte. His Little Mama’s restaurant will open for dinner service Tuesday at 9825 Sandy Rock Place in Rea Farms. Lunch service will begin Jan. 29.

The concept focuses on classic comfort food such as scratch-made pastas and housemade mozzarella. The goal is to transport diners to the 1960s-and-70s-inspired Italian restaurants in New York — or even capture the feel of their own homes during that era.

“That’s the feel. You’re going to my house as a guest,” he says. “That’s what I wanted to create.”

Scibelli describes Little Mama’s as a prequel to Mama Ricotta’s — his oldest restaurant and a Charlotte staple since 1992. Scibelli. He, Stephanie Kalish, partner and chief operating officer and chef/partner Tom Dryness drew from their own upbringings in creating the Little Mama’s. “We do feel like Little Mama’s is special,” he says. “The food and atmosphere is just so comfortable.”

His FS Food Group invested roughly $2 million to transform the 4,600-square-foot -space —previously home of short-lived Italian concept Sensi.

The dining room seats 128. A mezzanine seats 54 more and can double as private event space. A 48-seat sunroom was added, with a nanowall creating an indoor/outdoor vibe.

This is the second location for Little Mama’s. The first opened in SouthPark in June 2020 and has far exceeded expectations, Scibelli says. He adds that sales have been 70% above projections annually.

Executive Chef Jerry Martinez leads back of house operations. He’ll execute a culinary offering on par with the SouthPark location. Think favorites such as the Penne a la Vodka, Chicken Parm or house-made pastas such as ribbons of fresh pappardelle with a

1/25/24, 1:12 PM Frank Scibelli’s Little Mama’s lands opening date in south Charlotte – Charlotte Business Journal

https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2024/01/22/frank-scibelli-little-mamas-italian-restaurant.html 3/3

San Marzano tomato sauce or fresh radiatore served with a Scibelli family meat sauce recipe.

The mozzarella presentation at Little Mama’s delivers a made-to-order mozzarella platter drizzled with fresh olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

The Rea Farms restaurant is adding individual pizzas, too.

Expect favorites from the Mama Ricotta’s menu, as well as two created by Martinez. There’s the the Diavola, with Calabiran salami, caramelized onions, cherry peppers, provolone picante, homemade mozzarella and a Calabrian hot honey sauce. The Stracciatella pie is topped with olive oil, mozzarella, house Stracciatella, provolone picante, Fontina, wild mushrooms and a white truffle oil drizzle.

General Manager Samantha Fugate will lead the front-of-house. The bar program is led by Beverage Director Mary Wilson.

Little Mama’s at Rea Farms will have the same look and vibe of the original location. The SouthPark restaurant’s dark wood tables and banquette seating give the feel of a neighborhood eatery. Black and white photos hang over muted red paisley-style wallpaper. Gais Construction was the general contractor. Peadon Finein was the architect on the project.

Scibelli says Rea Farms is a giant growth area, making expansion ideal. “There’s so much out here, but there isn’t anything like Little Mama’s,” he says. He sees room for additional locations, with one in the north Charlotte market possible. Each location provides an opportunity for his team to grow personally and professionally.

Opening hours will be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Reservations via Resy and walk-ins are being accepted. There is limited seating for the near future.

Starting next Monday, lunch will begin at 11 a.m.

Private dining offerings and brunch will also come at a later date.

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