An Italian restaurant in Sewickley has reopened with a new layout, menu, staff and owner.
Customers are welcome again at Mambo Italia along Broad Street.
Business partners Joe Piccirilli and John Schiavo bought the restaurant the summer after it closed.
Mambo Italia underwent extensive renovations, added new staff in October, and reopened on January 4.
“It’s been a little crazy,” he said. “We just try to make sure everyone is in sync. We sort of control the flow of reservations. People are coming. No one is waiting. Every day the staff improves. The kitchen is getting better and better.
Piccirilli, who also owns 424 Walnut, another restaurant in the borough with chef Jimmy Zipparo, said he wanted to create a more casual atmosphere with more pizza and pasta options.
“I was looking to cut my pay and work more hours,” Piccirilli joked. “It’s completely different from Walnut. More family stuff. It’s a different menu.
Mambo Italia has a very experienced kitchen staff with chef Rob Longerman from Hopewell, sous chef Dan Eaton from McDonald’s and pizzeria chef Justin Giammario from Peters Township.
Longerman is about 38 years old in the restaurant business while Eaton is 26 and Giammario is 18.
“I love it,” Giammario said of his new role at a new restaurant. “It’s something I always wanted to do when I was in different management positions. I dreamed of working in an Italian place making wood oven pizza – mozzarella, whatever goes with it and training others.
“It’s fun times. I love it. We were here for a few months to train, iron out any issues. Now that we’re live, it’s really fun for me.
Piccirilli said the staff had been practicing since October, with some dishes having been reworked around a thousand times until they were perfected.
Having the right staff was a key part of reopening.
Piccirilli interviewed 75 servers and selected six.
He said he wanted to “build a culture” focused on the dining experience.
The pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven. About 70 to 80 pounds of fresh mozzarella are made per week.
Specialty pizzas include the Mambo. It includes prosciutto di parma, fresh grape tomatoes, arugula, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil and fresh mozzarella.
A specialty pie off the menu is the Sewickley – made with mushrooms, truffle oil, pancetta and mozzarella.
One of the best-selling appetizers is the Arancini Napoli, pasta croquettes made with stuffed egg pasta, prosciutto, breaded and fried fresh mozzarella.
Mambo Italia also offers homemade pasta and red sauce as well as tomatoes imported from San Marzano. Desserts include tiramisu, fried dough, gelatos, cannolis, and lemon mascarpone cake.
“Our job is to use the best and freshest ingredients,” Piccirilli said. “I think that’s reflected in the products.”
The dining room can accommodate 52 people. Daily specials are posted on the restaurant’s website.
One must reserve. No takeout other than pizza available at this time.
Piccirilli said they plan to add an outdoor seating area in the spring, and the bar will be available to customers once the plastic barriers are installed.