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“Italian Heaven”
Review of Mamma Zu's

Mamma Zu's
Ranked #115 of 1,719 Restaurants in Richmond
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $40
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night
Reviewed October 22, 2013

Hands down my favorite restaurant in Richmond. I am Italian and very picky about the food. This place is authentic and well worth the wait and the price. The experience alone is renowned. Celebrities that visit Richmond eat here and rave about it.

Thank Kenneth P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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138 - 142 of 261 reviews

Reviewed October 17, 2013

This review is for the first timer or for those that did not appreciate the iconic characteristics of Mamma Zu’s their first time. My husband and I eat at Mamma Zu’s enough to be called regulars and it actually hurts my heart when I read bad reviews about the place. I always think to myself that the reviewer simply didn't have the proper “mind set” to enjoy everything that this restaurant has to offer. Mamma Zu’s wards off all traditions of stiff and formal dining. Instead, this “keeping it real” restaurant serves its family-style dinners in huge portions creating an atmosphere quite unlike anything else in Richmond. Here are a few tips to follow. Be prepared there are a lot of Mamma Zu's foodies which causse long waits pretty much every night they are open. We get around this by being part of the "first seating", 5:30pm, when they open for dinner. Mind Set Tip 1: Come early or simply be prepared to wait a long time (sometimes an hour or more) in a small restaurant that has a small bar and no waiting area. The food is so worth it no matter what time you get there or how long you have to wait.
Next, Dave the host is not rude, he is simply there to run the restaurant efficiently. So if you have a dinner reservation for 8 and only 5 are there ... Dave won't seat you until all 8 people are there. Don’t review Dave as irritating, but rather respect him for his ability to run Mamma Zu’s with the same passion and earnest that is found in every dish.
We have never had a bad server in the 13+ years we have been eating there, so not sure what other reviewers are referring to, perhaps they had incorrect expectations. Be aware that you have to physically get up and pick your own wine out. The wine is along the right side wall towards the back of the restaurant. You bring the bottle to your table and the server will bring juice glasses and open the bottle for you, but don't expect fancy wine glasses or for them to pour it for you. Mind Set Tip 2: Make sure everyone in your party shows up on time for your reservation and remember you are going there to eat the best Italian food in America not have someone kiss your [--].
Lastly, the food!!! There are no dinner menus handed out at the table. There is a huge chalk board that is updated real time with Ed's amassed knowledge of Italian ingredients to combine pure food genius. Everything is made from the most authenticate Italian ingredients, so fresh and delicious it is hard to choose what to eat.
For apps we always start out with the Roasted Red Peppers and Buffalo Mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and fresh basil. The homemade white pizza is worth the extra wait and the sweet breads are so rich and velvety they should be ordered every time. For the main courses the garlic and lemon broccoletti will cure any common cold, the meat lasagna has peas, like secret little presents, scattered throughout (note: the vegetarian lasagna is just as tasty as its meat counter-part) and the New York Strip is as thick, juicy, salted to perfection as any meat lover can only dream of. Be aware again … you can only order steaks rare or medium rare. The wait staff isn't being rude, they are simply saving their food from being anything but the best. A well done steak will never be served at Ed’s place.
Other notable dishes are the Spicy Italian Sausage over Polenta with Ricotta, Eggplant Parmesan, Veal Masala, the Spicy Italian Sausage and Orecchiette Pasta, Squid and White Beans, and when in season any Oyster or Roe dish offered is a must. Ok hopefully you've gotten the idea … the more people you bring the more dishes you can sample!!!
Mind Set Tip 3: Everyone at Mamma Zu’s is focused on creating and serving the best Italian food in America. So sit back, relax and order enough food for nights of left overs so you can sample as much of the menu as possible. Bring cash, American Express, or a check to pay for your dinner; they only take those 3 forms of payments.
Have your dining expectations on eating the best Italian food in America, and you will have one of the best culinary experiences of your life … or at least in Richmond.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
1  Thank Bambi_Kelley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2013

Not everyone's style but the best food and best value in Richmond. Smart, knowledgeable servers and a consistent kitchen. You either love the vibe or hate it.

Thank julesgarcia1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 9, 2013

Four of us went for an early mid-week lunch to beat the crowd. The place is a homey dive. It reminded my Italian wife and cousins of growing up in New Haven, CT. Bare wooden tables, concrete floors, chalkboard menu, wine in small tumblers (only $3 and decent wine). But, oh, the food! The extensive menu offers authentic, rustic, simply prepared dishes with the freshest local ingredients.

A special appetizer was the cod chowder. Potatoes were not mushy, cod was tender, and the broth was simply wonderful. My entree spaghetti carbonara was fabulous: the pasta perfectly cooked, the pancetta and sauce great. My wife and cousin had the seafood with pasta; one with a white sauce and the other with red. Both were spectacular.

Highly recommended.

Thank Dave F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 3, 2013

If you didn't know better, you'd never go in to this place. In fact, you may not want to go in based on my comments. It looks awful. And the inside isn't any better than the outside. Dark. Dingy. No menus, just a poorly lighted chalkboard.

But the food, oh my goodness. Everything is good. The fish is unbelievable. Italian dishes outstanding. Best fried oysters I've ever had.

Try it, you'll like it.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Jay D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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