An Italian Love Affair with Cardiff Opens a New Chapter (Restaurant!)
In 1990, Lina Intriglia left Reggio Calabria a coastal city on the Mediterranean Sea in Southern Italy to re-join her three sons who had previously moved from their homeland a couple of years before to head to Wales to pursue careers in the catering industry.
Salvatore, Massimo and Maurizio had all been inspired by Lina after spending many hours of their childhood in the kitchen of the family home helping their Mamma prepare wonderful homemade traditional Italian dishes created from recipes that have been in the family for generations.
The three sons had secured jobs in restaurant kitchens here in Wales and were all starting to gain a reputation for the quality of the food they were serving to customers.
Lina was herself an accomplished professional chef and had worked in the kitchens of the hotels and restaurants in her hometown.
She immediately found work in Cardiff and her culinary skills were enjoyed by patrons of well-known Cardiff restaurants including LaVita, Fontaine De Trevi and Caramellas.
Mamma Lina’s Opens in Clifton Street
In 1996, Lina opened her own 60-seater restaurant on Clifton Street in the capital and Mamma Lina’s opened its doors for the first time.
The restaurant was an immediate success. Lina’s traditional dishes proved to be very popular with customers as did the warm welcome and personal service all her customers received. The restaurant was regularly fully booked and had gained a very good reputation. Her sons were regular visitors to the restaurant helping out and spending time with their Mamma.
After five successful years, Mamma Lina had to make a tough decision and retired for personal reasons.
Salvatore and Maurizio had left the UK and both headed to Asia where their careers and reputations continued to grow and develop as the popularity of Italian food grew in Brunei where they were now based. Massimo had his own restaurant in Manchester.
Family Name and Reputation is Resurrected
Very close family friends to Lina and her family had also moved across to South Wales. The Pandolfi’s were from Capri, a picturesque Italian island in the Mediterranean and Gianluca one of the son’s was working in Italian restaurants in Cardiff.
A decade after Mamma Lina’s closed in Cardiff, Massimo and Gianluca decided to reopen, not in Cardiff but in Rogerstone, Newport.
After a brief spell in another building, the new business secured the lease of a large restaurant just off the A467 and Mamma Lina’s was once again serving authentic traditional Italian dishes. Massimo and Gianluca invited family members to join them to work in the restaurant as well as others they had previously worked with.
The 160-seater restaurant is a firmly established favourite for many of the local community and those who travel from further afield to visit the now award winning (Best Family Owned Italian Restaurant in Wales 2018) restaurant complete with cocktail bar and live music most Saturdays. It’s also received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for four consecutive years.
Mamma Lina’s Returns to Cardiff
Earlier this year, the Massimo and Gianluca made the decision to open a second restaurant and reopen Mamma Lina’s in Cardiff. Zio Pins Italian restaurant on Albany Road in Roath was closing and the location and size of the property which can host up to to 50 visitors at a time was ideal. After an extensive refurbishment, Mamma Lina’s was once again open in Cardiff.
Massimo’s brother Maurizio was in the process of selling his restaurant business in Brunei and accepted an invitation to return to Cardiff as Head Chef in the new restaurant to create the traditional Italian dishes Mamma Lina’s is known for as well as introduce his own specials.
Gianluca’s brother in law and very experienced front of house manager Marcello Celestini is the manager of the restaurant and both have helped ensure that visitors will enjoy the complete Mamma Lina’s experience each time they visit.
Since opening, the Cardiff restaurant has already received fantastic reviews and as the team continue to establish themselves, the family hope they will enjoy the same level of success that Mamma Lina enjoyed in Clifton Street and the cousins have in Newport.