Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza

Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza is located at 2229 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Established in 1996, Mama Palma’s has won many awards from various sources over the past 13 years. Their popularity in Philadelphia has caused them to be recognized as one of the most popular pizza restaurants next to Tacconelli’s and Pizzeria Stella.

Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza has had many mixed reviews over the past few years from its customers. I have explored their reviews from several sources and have found some gruesome stories that if true would cause them to be highly frowned upon in my book. However, from my recent experience there, I have disproved some of these comments. For example, one major topic is the owner’s thuggish appearance and horrible treatment to customers with children. This was not the case that I witnessed. Actually it was the opposite. There were several couples with children in the restaurant while I was there and all were given the highest customer service. The staff was very friendly and seemed to take care of their customers including myself and company.

Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza is located on the corner of 23rd and Spruce in Center City Philadelphia. The restaurant is average in size with about 15 tables. The place is very nice…definitely an upscale restaurant. However, nowhere near as beautiful as Stephen Starr’s Stella (he must have pumped a lot of money in that place).

When you first walk in you are greeted by the cashier and the wood fired oven on the left. The chef makes the pizza right in front of the wood fire burning oven. As you sit at your table you can admire all of the many awards that are framed on the wall for best Philadelphia pizza. On a cold day you can also stare at the fire in the oven as the chef makes the pizza and appreciate that you are in a warm environment. There is something about staring at a contained fire in a cozy atmosphere to make you feel at home (particularly when you know that it is cooking the food that you will be eating).

Let’s talk about their oven. According to Mama Palma’s, their brick oven is imported from Europe. Unlike conventional ovens, theirs can achieve a combination of roasting, baking, and smoking. The intense heat from the hardwood seals in the flavor that creates the many wonderful tastes of their pizza.

As stated, the waitress and waiters were all very nice to their customers. I experienced a very inviting atmosphere. However, one thing that I thought was interesting was the hospitality section on the menu of Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza. It states: “Mama Palma’s likes to treat our customers like family. When we are busy and other families are waiting, we would appreciate it if you could release your table after you have finished and allow us to seat others. La Famiglia Russo.” That was a nice way of putting it to get lost when you are finished. Well... at least they tried to be professional about it. They probably experience a lot of loiters who sit there for hours and order one pizza. This is a fancy place and I understand that they have a big waiting list. This must be the solution that they have come up with after 13 years in business.

Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza Review: First let me recommend ordering a specialty beer to wash down your pizza. While in an Italian restaurant you should drink Italian beer…Peroni of course. There are so many options on their menu that may make your head spin trying to decide on what to order. Although they specialize in pizza, Mama Palma’s also has a nice salad and pasta selection. Some of the gourmet pizzas that they have include: Peking duck, Maryland crab and asparagus, wheat pizza, low fat pizza, seafood, and veggie pizzas.

I ordered a medium 12 inch “pizza de mare” (seafood pizza). This pizza is a combination of fresco and garlic olive oil bases topped with shrimp, clams, and mozzarella. The crust was semi charred and thin. The slices became extraordinarily thin at the bottom so that the crust started to fold backwards automatically. This required the use of two hands. This may be due to the amount of toppings that were placed on the top of the pizza (plenty). The edge of the crust was also slightly charred from the flame and very crispy crunchy. This isn’t exactly the way New York pizza critics like their wood fired pizzas as there was only a very slight charring unlike Stella’s pizzeria which had a bit more char and air bubbles on the edge. Here the edge did not have any air bubbles from the dough and was very thin yet crispy. The 12 inch pie worked well. Someone who is a big eater can easily eat this whole pizza if they were very hungry (such as me).

The seafood pizza did not have any sauce per se but it did have big chunks of tomatoes throughout. There was also a good amount of small shrimp and clam slices. The mozzarella cheese was barely noticeable as the many other flavors in the pizza were the obvious dominant ones. Of particular notice was the olive oil base that made this pie a very messy one to eat. There was enough olive oil on the slices that they will drop off the edges and onto your fingers almost inevitably. This is not the same type of grease that you would experience at an average Joe pizzeria though. It was real olive oil and was only used moderately.

The price of this pizza was very expensive but it is a price that is deserving of true gourmet pizza. The 12 inch pizza was $19.50. This would be a few more dollars than Stella’s Pizzeria. Despite its price, I am very impressed with the overall package delivered by this place. The pizza was excellent. The menu selection of gourmet pizzas was diverse and unique. The atmosphere was very relaxing and comforting. The staff was hospitable. The location is ideal along a quaint street in Center City Philadelphia. The price was a bit high but I believe that you get what you pay for. In this case, the total package justifies the price; hence, there was much value to it.

Mama Palma’s Wood Fired Brick Oven Gourmet Pizza – Welcome to the Best Philadelphia Pizza Club!

Mama Palma's Gourmet Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. when i bought my house throught costa rica homes for sale i wanted a great kitchen with a big space to put a big oven. Now i can baking every kind of cakes in there.

  2. I just couldn’t leave your website before telling you that we really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new posts.

  3. All I can say is mmmmm.. I will definitely be at this place the next time I am in Philly. There is nothing better than a brick oven pizza done right.