All you need to know about Big Mamma Cucina Popolare
Unlock the secret behind these big-hearted, fun-fillled restaurants, winning over the discerning diners of Europe
What is the Italian for ‘the most amount of fun you can have in a restaurant’? Maybe it’s Big Mamma Cucina Popolare.
Founded in 2013 by two ambitious, Italian-cuisine loving Frenchmen, Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux, Big Mamma now runs 10 amazing venues in France and the UK, serving more than 8,000 fabulously good and generous Italian meals, in extremely warm and welcoming places. You may have enjoyed their flair and fare at Gloria in Shoreditch; Pink Mamma, East Mamma or Ober Mamma in Paris; or indeed any of their other places. Yet you wouldn’t have been able to discover just how Mamma got quite so big and beautiful, until the publication of Big Mamma Cucina Popolare.
The idea behind these wonderful places, explain the founders in our new book, was to both make authentic Italian food, but also to recreate a place full of warmth and generosity that can be found in the small, out-of-the-way trattorias. Each restaurant works hard to conjure up “a unique atmosphere that blends the simple with the spectacular, one which is so hard to match, and which reflects the essence of pleasure – eating very good food at affordable prices,” they say.
Part of Big Mamma’s success in Paris, London and Lille lies in the very personal way they source their ingredients. The supply chain runs directly from Italy, right down to individual producers, such as Stefano Borchini – “this amazing man, a purist, could speak for hours about the beauty of his prosciutto di Parma because it runs through his veins and what he knows has been passed down through several generations” – Salvatore Corso – “his mozzarella di bufala is to die for” – and Lorenzo Bagatto “and his incredible San Daniele ham.”
Plenty of their achievements can be put down to the restaurant’s young and largely Italian brigade. “This fired-up team, with an average age of twenty-four, turns every dish, dessert and cocktail into an incredible journey,” explains our new book. “Their wish is to share the flavours of their childhood, the taste of their very own Italy, of Naples, of Rome, of Verona, of Puglia and every other part of the country.”
Yet a whole lot more arises from the joy and spirit Big Mamma packs into its recipes. The book features plenty of classics, such as pizza margherita, pesto sauce, and tiramisu, though they all come with a little Big Mamma magic. Take La Gran Carbonara, a hugely calorific serving of pasta, which is presented in its own hollowed-out wheel of cheese; or Put a Ring on It, the restaurant’s massive Neopolitan wedding cake.
Which brings us onto the dishes’ names. As with all good, quirky, trattorias, Big Mamma’s places like to have a little fun on the menu too. Look out for Daft Punch, Egg Sheeran and Roberto Cavatelli among these pages.
The restaurants’ chefs let their culinary characters shine through too, offering personal tips on how to shop for truffles, how to pick out a good knife, how to make a good, heart-shaped pizza.
Anyone who has enjoyed these restaurants’ hospitality will love this guide to how Big Mamma does it. Yet the book also is filled with fun, contemporary takes on Italian cuisine, that are easy to follow, and even easier to enjoy.
As the founders suggest in the book, you should “make these dishes for your next dinner party with friends, for a wonderful family lunch, for the second date you really don’t want to go wrong, or simply when you’re on your own at home tonight, because there’s no reason not to enjoy them. And take all the risks you want: don’t follow our instructions to the letter, give our twists your own twist, improvise and do things your way. Most of all, enjoy it.”
For a more detailed look at this culinary dolce vita, head over to our store to order a copy of Big Mamma Cucina Popolare.