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$20 Dinner

Pizzalujah: Frank Tuttolomondo Brings His Awe-Inspiring Slices to the West Village

Everything rules at the enormous new Mama's Too on Bleecker Street.

Two square slices from Mama's Too pizzeria in the West Village.

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Frank Tuttolomondo, the owner and head pizzaiolo of the consistently—and often astonishingly—great Mama's Too, didn't plan on getting into the pizza game. True, his grandmother had a slice shop called Mama's on the Upper West Side which she'd been running since 1959, and yes, his uncles all worked there, but Tuttolomondo was a Queens kid. He didn't spend a ton of time on Amsterdam Avenue growing up. It was in his blood, but not really in his blood.  

Fortunately for us, Tuttolomondo hated school. So when his grandmother announced that she was retiring from Mama's, with his uncles soon to follow, and his mother said she wasn't interested in taking over, Tuttolomondo saw a career opportunity for himself—and the perfect excuse to drop out of college. "My professor pissed me off one day and I walked out of class and never went back," he told Hell Gate. "I went straight to the pizzeria. This was in 2008, and I've pretty much never left."  

Pizza heaven. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Tuttolomondo learned the basics of pizza-making at Mama's, but over time, he became frustrated by the menu's limitations there. "For 60 years, for generations before me, people had been coming to that pizzeria and ordering the same thing," he said. "I couldn't do anything else. I literally put all the stuff I make today at the end of the counter there, and no one would touch it. I couldn't give it away."  

The only way he could make the type of pizza he wanted was to expand, so at the end of 2017, Tuttolomondo opened a sliver of a slice shop over on Broadway called Mama's Too. Big crowds; big-name critical acclaim; and, for me and my daughters, dozens (hundreds?) of amazing slices followed. Seriously: Mama's Too has been our UWS go-to and special-occasion spot since early 2018, and every time I go, I'm newly awed at how good this pizza is. 

Last-minute window cleaning on opening day last Saturday. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

And now, there are two Mama's Too locations in town. This past weekend, Tuttolomondo flung open the doors to his enormous new pizzeria in the West Village, and it is a glorious beast to behold. First of all, he now has a whopping eight electric ovens cranking out pies and heating up slices—he said he engineered the place to handle 800 amps, which is like two whole apartment buildings worth of juice—so that every day he can offer every type of pie in his repertoire. 

The Mama's Too pizza is unlike any other in the city. "Every different characteristic of pizza I incorporate into Mama's Too are things from other styles that I like," said Tuttolomondo. "I love the robust and fresh flavors of the Neapolitan pizza, but I hate the soupiness aspect of it. I love the New York slice, I just don't love the greasy, floppy-ness of it. It's kind of a New York-style Sicilian, but with the light and airy aspect of the pizza from Rome." 

Square slices are $6.75 each, and the "house" triangle slice is $5. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

I've never had anything but an awesome slice at Mama's Too. I usually just order at random, knowing I'll be happy no matter what—though, if forced to list my favorites, I'd probably include the creamy cacio e pepe, the bright and saucy "upside down," the fiery "angry nonna" with hot soppressata and hot honey, the funky pepperoni, and the also-funky funghi. And the vodka. And the newish Florentine. Those are all big, fat, square slices, and we usually also get a triangle "house" slice too, just because it rules.

House slice, $5. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The kitchen and prep areas sprawl at the new place, which means Tuttolomondo can serve his (also excellent) sandwiches all the time in the West Village, instead of just once a week. On opening day, that meant our party split a sexy, messy monster of a chicken cutlet hero, oozing vodka sauce, stracciatella, and pesto from its crusty house-baked sesame roll. Other masterpieces will make their way into the rotation here as well: a porchetta and rabe, a cheesesteak, and a meatball parm for the ages. Splitting a sandwich and a couple of slices is the pro move here, and it's more than enough food for two.

Chicken alla vodka sandwich with mozzarella and pesto, $20. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

There's seating for about 30 people at the Bleecker Street location, which is excellent news for everyone (me) who's ever stood on that sidewalk uptown wolfing slices in the rain. I mean, the freaking walk-in downstairs in the basement here is bigger than his entire shop uptown! And once things settle a bit after the crazy busy opening, Tuttolomondo will be scooping his stellar gelato daily as well.

"One thing I really look forward to here in the West Village is that there's room to bring the hospitality factor back into the business," he said. "Uptown, you come in, order your pizza, and get the fuck out. There's nowhere to even stand. Down here, we'll have lots of customers inside, with time to relax and look at what we have. It'll be more accessible, more fun, and a cool place to hang out." 

Mama's Too West Village is located at 325 Bleecker Street, just south of Christopher Street, and is currently open daily from noon to 10 p.m. 

The big tables in the front windows are the baller spots here. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
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