Pizza, Pasta and Praise

Officials presenting certificates of congratulation at Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta last Saturday include Assemblyman Chris Holden (far left), South Pasadena Mayor Marina Khubesrian (second from right) and District Representative for State Sen. Anthony Portantino David Kim (far right). Restaurant owners are Steve Inzunza (second from left) and Jamie Inzunza (third from right). The Inzunza’s daughter Kalyn is third from left. Photo by Sally Kilby

Some 60 members of the community as well as local officials joined owners Jamie and Steve Inzunza last Saturday to celebrate the relocation of Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta. After 14 years at the 1,600-square-foot building at 710 Fair Oaks Ave., the owners moved their restaurant to a 5,000-square-foot, completely renovated historic building at 1007 Fair Oaks Ave. A soft opening was held Aug. 20 — but Oct. 5 was the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’re happy. We’re proud,” Jamie Inzunza said during the celebration in the restaurant’s party room. “Steve and I actually achieved our dream with this restaurant.”

“We wanted something completely family oriented, where people are comfortable coming in and can run into their neighbors,’’ she added.

After the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials honored the Inzunzas with certificates. Among them was Assemblyman Chris Holden and Mayor Marina Khuberian, along with David Kim, representing state Sen. Anthony Portantino.

“Each year, I have the opportunity to recognize small businesses in the 41st Assembly District that make a positive impact in our communities, and when it comes to a small business making a positive impact in South Pasadena you couldn’t find anyone better than Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta,” Holden said.

“Small businesses contribute to our local economy, provide valuable employment opportunities, and are often an integral part of community life.”

Said Khubesrian: “We love you, we love your vision and we love what you’ve done with this location.”

Many attendees have known the Inzunzas since “Little Mamma’s” opened. Most said they are good friends of the Inzunzas as well as regular customers.

“It is such an exciting moment for them and for our community,” said South Pasadena resident Jane Brust. “They have so many friends and fans in [town].”

“They’ve done so much for various organizations, and to see them realize a dream and open up this beautiful new restaurant that is so family friendly, has the beer wall feature, and is so much bigger — it’s wonderful to see people come together and have a great time.”

Laurie Wheeler, president, Chamber of Commerce, echoed Brust’s comments. “I don’t know of any organization that hasn’t asked them for something, and they’re willing to give it,” she said. “They hire local school kids. They are not only providing a gathering place but are also doing so much more for the community.”

Businessman and South Pasadena resident Bill Cullinane agreed they are a big part of the community. “We’re friends on all kinds of different levels,’’ he said. “They’re just terrific people. We are certainly happy to have them in town.”

Steve Inzunza took the microphone in the party room to express thanks to the City Council, community members and city staff who supported them in the year-long renovation of the building. He mentioned numerous individuals by name, including Peter Wilson, Bill Cullinane, Becky Thompson, John Vandercook and Eric and Jeannie Joe.

Among other features, the new Mamma’s has one of the first self-serve beer-tap walls in the Los Angeles area — and the only one in the San Gabriel Valley.