Judging by the Formica tables and linoleum, you’d think that Mamma Lucia’s was just another Italian carry-out. But Mamma Lucia’s, run by ebullient owners, is so much more than the calzones and pizzas on the light-up Plexiglas menu board.
Those who know order from the dinner specials menu, handwritten either on a blackboard or on paper taped up by the cash register. A good bet is any dish with the appellation “Mamma’s”—like Mamma’s Favorite ($8.95), available the night we visited (specials change constantly). A symphony of subtle flavors, it featured fresh, hand-breaded slices of eggplant layered with fresh spinach and ricotta, served over pasta with sprightly marinara sauce and lots o’ melted mozz. Shrimp alla Fradiavola tops out the menu at $13,95, but it’s a generous half-pound-plus mound of shellfish enveloped in a deeply kick-ass sauce (over linguine) that sings of hot peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. If your plans for the evening involve another human being, you’ll definitely want to share; this giant mound of mangia is more than enough for two. Overall, the pizzas and sandwiches here are fine, but the pastas are what elevate: Li’l Italy-quality fare at half the price.