I was in pizza dough heaven on Friday night, enjoying the best Deep Dish Pizza west of the Mississippi River at Mama Colletti’s new location on Winchester and Murrieta Hot Springs. For those of you who have been fans since Tammy Colletti-Naulls opened off Temecula Parkway in 2005, you will love the expanded restaurant space and exciting new menu, as she has joined forces with D’Canters chef Tom Lambing. For those of you who aren’t yet “in the know” but have been craving an exceptional pizza and authentic Chicago Italian fare, this is your new home.
Tammy was born and raised in Chicago, the granddaughter of an Italian sausage maker and daughter of one of Chicago’s famous hot dog stand owners. The Colletti family still has a restaurant in the Chicago area, and Tammy finally decided it was time to recreate those big and bold flavors from back home.
Mama Colletti’s is true to Tammy’s roots—everything is authentic Chicago Italian. “Mama” is actually Tammy’s grandmother and the recipes are hers. Impressively, the Vienna beef hot dogs, soft poppy seed buns, and peppers & relish all come directly from Chicago. Tammy will accept no substitute. For example, the top-selling Italian Beef Sandwich is all-Chicago, with purists making sure that this slow-roasted beef sandwich is served “wet” with au jus and topped with traditional Girardeneria that makes your lips tingle. The Chicago Dog is only served on authentic poppy-seed buns that have been wonderfully steamed, then “loaded” with the famous neon green relish…but never ketchup. It just ain’t Chicago that way.
For me, the star of the show is Mama Colletti’s Deep Dish Pizza. You can order any of her pizzas thin, deep dish, or stuffed, but I am a big fan of a pizza you need muscles just to carry. Tammy said they weighed one of the Chicago Seven Pizzas, and each slice was a full pound. They’re not messing around or being skimpy with ingredients here, and it’s definitely worth the wait (and the weight)! The dough is homemade and perfectly chewy, and it is covered with a succulent sweet tomato sauce that balances the robust spiciness of the meats—including thick slabs of sausage. Everything is home-made, nothing processed. The sausage is also from Chicago, but the big news is that Tammy’s family has just located her grandfather’s old sausage recipe, which will soon be made in-house for all the dishes. I can’t wait to go back and try it. Hands-down the best pizza I’ve had in years!
As proud as Tammy is about her Chicago-Italian roots and how true she stays to her grandma’s recipes, she is also really excited to have renowned Chef Tom Lambing join her. Chef Lambry honed his culinary skills in New Orleans and migrated to California after Katrina to open D’Canters Wine Bar & Grill in Wildomar. When Mama Colletti’s re-opened this August, he joined Tammy and brought his Cajun/Creole cooking to the menu. Now guests can enjoy Gumbo, PoBoys, and Muffaletta along with Lasagna, Baked Ziti, and Meatball Sandwiches. It’s a fun combination both chefs are eager to serve up.
No time for a dinner out? No problem! In addition to take-out, the new restaurant has a “Grab-and-Go” deli section where you can take home the Colletti family tomato sauce, Chef Tom’s homemade dressings, take-n-bake pastas & pizza, and of course, a cannoli or two. Now we can all feel like authentic Chicago-Italian cooks from the comfort of our own homes…brilliant!
Also included in the expanded restaurant is a stage for live music, an outdoor patio, a party room, and a bar with several flat-screen TVs so guests can enjoy “Football Breakfast” on Sundays (Mama’s opens at 9:00am on Sundays for East Coast games). Patrons can root for Da Bears and enjoy Breakfast Pizzas, Roadhouse Burgers, Italian-style Eggs Benedict (with spicy capicola instead of ham), a special Ditka Dog, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer specials.
In addition, since so many of her guests feel like family, Tammy is planning a Colletti Family Italian Thanksgiving Dinner. She’ll be open Thursday, November 25th, and she’ll be cooking up traditional turkey, stuffing and fixings, as well as pasta, sausage & peppers, and meatballs.
So, whether you’re a displaced Chicagoan, a wayward Italian, or a starved Californian, Mama Colletti’s is your answer for casual food that is fun, bold, authentic, and just plain yummy!
Mama Colletti’s is located at 39252 Winchester Rd, Ste. 145, Murrieta (south of Murrieta Hot Springs Road, next to Albertson’s). Or find them on the web at www.mamacollettis.com. For take-out, call 951-696-5252.