I can’t recall a more anticipated restaurant opening around town than Mother Pizzeria in quite some time. Since the old Panera’s windows on Long Wharf Mall were papered from top to bottom earlier in the year, more people than I can count asked me if I had the scoop on the anticipated opening, which was an ambiguous “summer 2023.” It’s no wonder there was such a buzz around town—the restaurant is the creation of chefs Kevin O’Donnell and Kyle Stamps, as well as tenured restaurateur Lauren Schaefer, all of whom are well known to any regular at Giusto, just down America’s Cup Avenue at Hammetts Wharf.
As Giusto continues to thrive, Mother is their newest venture. Decidedly more casual and yet still embodying the chic style and “tight ship” vibes as its culinary cousin, Mother opened mid-July and as I suspected, it was a frenzy for the first few weeks to the point where they had to close early one night because they ran out of dough. (It’s a good problem for a new pizzeria to have!) So, when I dined there recently, a month into its birth, I was excited to get the full experience, and so I didn’t peek at the menu beforehand.
Often I’ll spot something on a menu and know right away that’s what I’ll be ordering, but there is such a pleasure in being truly torn—when you want almost all the things. And it’s equally delightful to be pleased with your final decision but eager to return to try more, which was the case for me at Mother. I knew that in addition to the pizza, the restaurant was offering cured meats, cheeses and tinned fish, which was tempting when I saw their Cured & Aged menu, but those (think: apricot mostarda, local honey, marinated olives, and pickled Guindilla peppers) will have to wait until my next visit as I had eyes on the prize: salad and pizza, the perfect, simple summertime combo.
Because you always need as baseline, we ordered a classic Margherita with mozzarella, Bianco di Napoli tomatoes, and fresh basil, as well as “The Notorious F.I.G.,” with black mission fig, ricotta, prosciutto, arugula, and aged balsamic (I mean, how can you resist that name?). Both 12″ pies were made from naturally fermented dough using local stone ground flour and baked in a Marra Forni Neapolitan-style pizza oven greeting guests with its aroma and pretty black-tile design. Each pie had the perfect hint of char from the oven and generous toppings, and were lovely with chewy dough and hot oozing cheese. The Caesar salad we enjoyed both before and after the pizza.
Other highlights from the Snacks & Salads menu (prepared to be shared but certainly not required) include Garlic Knots Cacio E Pepe, the Chop Chop Salad with salame, pecorino fresco, pickled vegetables, and creamy Italian dressing, and Octopus Salad with gochujang, fermented fennel, cucumber, and fingerling potatoes. And from the pizza menu, there’s the very tempting “Super Tuscan” with soppressata, mozzarella, tomato, broccoli rabe; “The Nightshade” with heirloom cherry tomato, pesto trapanese, smoked mozzarella; “Calabrian Luau” with n’duja, pineapple, red onion, roasted pepper, caciocavallo; and, the next one on my must-try list: the “RI Party Pie” with tomato, estratto di pomodoro, Sicilian oregano, and chili flakes.
Like Giusto here, the bar program doesn’t disappoint. There’s not an overwhelming amount of choices nor do you need one as the selection of low-intervention wines, craft beers, and Italian-centric cocktails seems just right. While the wines lean mostly Italian, the selection features producers from around the world, all by the glass, carafe and bottle. The beer list is seasonal and includes both local and imported styles in bottles, cans and draught.
For example, on the cocktail list a house spritz which replaces Aperol with a red bitter made infused with pineapple and rosemary. I hadn’t planned on ordering a cocktail but changed my mind as I was tempted by the “Spicy Tequila Thing” with spicy tequila, Bitter Bianco, coconut, and guava. One sip and I was instantly assured this was the right decision.
Mother offers two different culinary experiences: a quick counter-style to-go reminiscent of a Roman café and a dining room and bar. If dining, I recommend a reservation as Mother can get busy. Buon appetito!