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Mamma Zu - 62 Reviews - 501 S Pine St, Richmond, VA - People Watching Reviews - Phone (804) 788-4205

Mamma Zu

501 S Pine St
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 788-4205
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Who are these crazy people wasting time dissing the best Italian restaurant my wife and I have eaten at in many years? Who cares about the ma


Come on guys, no visa or M/C, just cash, check or Amex. Notification of this by our waitress at the end of the meal was a major let down. She seemed to enjoy the inconvenience it ...

Watch your cash! 4/22/2013

Food is Great, service attitude is horrible. Head waiter and waitress tried to scam us out of $50 cash. Our... more

Watch your cash! 4/22/2013

gewCH Provided by Partner
Food is Great, service attitude is horrible. Head waiter and waitress tried to scam us out of $50 cash. Our bill; was $83.25, went to pay with M... more

poorly managed local Italian rest 3/30/2012

RUDE , Door greeter ! No customer service here. Waited 1 hr to be told we could only order 1 pizza. Ordered mushroom pizza and got plain cheese because mushrooms were needed to other customers entree's. I would have walked but friends wanted that pizza. They need to try Azzurros. No nasty people. Pathitic to be his age with NO manners. My last visit and I am starting a BOYCOT Momma Zus facebook. They SUCK !!! more

food is OK but head waiter is a rude pr_ck. 3/29/2012

Have been many times over the last 7 years. I'm married to an awesome Italian chef so my expectations are high. She likes the place, especially the eggplant parm, but I refuse to spend any more $$ there while that arrogant head waiter/ maitre d' still works there. Simply a rude, self important jerk. That said, I have always been treated well by the other wait staff. Too bad they have to work with that pasta nazi.... more

Authentic delicious food, not good service 3/6/2012

I guess it's a strange thing, but I like to treat others and be treated with courtesy and respect. I'm not European, or Italian, etc. So when I try an eclectic restaurant for the first time because I do love real, delicious food, and do not enjoy chains, it helps to be treated politely and helped to know simple things about the place. Simply put I was not, and based on reviews it seems I am not the only one. I think it would be superb to proudly pair authentic, quality, delicious Italian food with some authentic, quality, and simple good hospitality. Help new comers understand how the place works. Smile some. Greet people some way, somehow. Just little things. I believe there is a happy medium between no hospitality apart from taking an order and delivering it, and ""gushing waiters who hold your hand, perform like monkeys for tips, and waste your time with ridiculous chit chat, a la TGI Fridays."" I think there's something tasteful in between that would give me a better opinion. I will try this place again and see. more


Who are these crazy people wasting time dissing the best Italian restaurant my wife and I have eaten at in many years? Who cares about the ma more

man-DIVA at the door, consider yourself lucky 5/6/2011

NEVER AGAIN!!!\r \r I've eaten at Mamma Zu's for a while and accept that parking is a challenge, waiting to get a table, and receiving the minimal amount of service during my meal. But that's always been fine because the food won me over. \r \r Until my last visit on 5/5 that is... \r \r Attempting to enjoy dinner with my wife for an early Mother's Day celeberation, she went in before me to get our name on the wait list while I parked the car. Once inside I found my wife was upset and the majority of the patrons were looking at me. \r \r My wife told me she wanted to leave, which I agreed and left with her by my side. within 5 steps out the door another patron rushed out to tell us the man-diva (big bird yellow shirt, glasses, terrible hair cut) ""...had no right to talk to her that way..."" \r \r Turns out she heard the man-diva yelling at my wife after she explained to him that she was in line before another group. As simple as that... Was causing a scene really necessary???\r \r I also understand why everyone was looking at me when I walked in, and why my wife wanted to leave before telling me... \r \r Thanks for ruining my wife's Mother's Day celebration...\r \r more

Staff that make you want to kill 4/30/2011

Always looking for someplace new so decided to try last Friday evening. I expected a long wait since it was Friday night so when told an hour thought okay. The wait turned to an hour and a half because the host could not be heard when he said our name because of the crowd and noise. When asked the host snapped that he said our name and clearly got an attitude about it. When the waitress arrived it was as if it was an insult to ask a question about the food choices. Their menu is on a chalkboard behind the counter so if your not familiar with a dish don't ask its beneath them to tell you about it. My first choice was the lasagna but soldout while waiting as was the rockfish. Decided on the Sirlion steak, was very flavorful but not worth the $30. My wife had the meatballs which she said were pretty good. For dessert we had the tiramasu and cannoli which I could have bought in the freezer dept at krogers and been happier with then what was served. To top it all off when going to pay the bill I am informed they do not accept Visa. Nowhere is there any prior notification as such. It is as if they like it that way just to piss you off one more time before leaving. After running up the street to an ATM I left vowing never to return again. more

Very strange experience 2/25/2011

First, we are not special. We had to wait approximately one hour. We expected this. The restaurant was so packed that people were literally shoving one another. I thought I'd make the best of it and ordered a glass of wine. I tried to give the bartender a debit card to start a tab, but he said they would just start a tab using my name. I thought that was nice. Yet, the wine came in what appeared to be a juice glass that was so small, wine spilled out and dripped all over two people in front of me. When we were finally seated, the waitress asked if we had an questions about the menu. Bewildered, I explained that we didn't have a menu. She appeared disgusted and pointed to a chalkboard, then walked away. We went up to the chalkboard, but could only read about half of it. There were no prices listed. I asked the waitress if we could just tell her what we wanted and have her tell us what the closest thing was; she begrudgingly agreed. She then proceeded to call our selections ""kinda boring"". They apparently also do not have ""normal"" drinks at this restaurant - only numerous kinds of Pellegrino, regular coke in a bottle, tea, and water. However, expect to have the glass slammed down on the table half full if you dare ask for a refill. When we were done eating, my friend and I just laughed, saying ""now we know"". Then, when the bill came and I pulled out my debit card, the waitress said they only accepted American Express, cash, or personal check. I wrote A $49 CHECK for our dinner and quickly left. The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if we had gotten mugged in the seriously ghetto area in which the restaurant is located. (However, when I got the check, I felt as though I had been robbed.) I will never go back there again. more

Amazing 1/6/2011

No offense to Mama Cucina, but their food cannot touch Mama Zu! Yes often hey are not warm and fuzzy, but I could care less. This is the best Italian food outside of Italy I have had. It is in a getto tinged area with shitty parking but I don't care at all...I would honetsly risk it all to eat there :-))))) more

DON'T GO this holiday season 12/22/2010

I'm never going back to this place again. Ever. I am so freaking upset right now I had to ask my husband to take me home. I waited in the car for 20 minutes while he was inside desperately trying to get a gift card for my father for Christmas. My husband and I had kind of enjoyed the food once before and thought, although the place is a dump and the parking is terrible, that my dad might enjoy something on the menu. My dad is difficult to please and only eats Italian food, and if I hadn't gotten him dozens of Mama Cucina's (delicious place btw) gift cards before, I wouldn't have even tried for something different. The hostess told my husband upon his arrival that a gift card ""would be awhile"" and haughtily walked away without another word. He waited. And waited. Then he left to tell me it didn't look like it was going to happen. I kindly asked him to go back, and try again, as this was the LAST stop on my xmas shopping list and I was eager to get it over with. He went back and a manager told him Amex wasn't accepted for gift cards. ""Cash only - if you've eaten here before you would have known that."" What a d*ck. My husband walked out, but I swear I would have punched the guy in the face because I don't have the patience for rude service staff like my spouse. Sorry, it's 2010 and I don't have $100 in cash on me in the city of Richmond waiting to be stolen off my person. BOYCOTT MAMMA ZU. Let's make the owner lose out on some business this winter - it's not acceptable to have people like that on the floor. Time to pack it up and get the heck out of Richmond. Go to Mama Cucina's in Innsbrook instead. The food is better too. Seriously. I'm not just saying that in my fit of anger :) more

Please! 11/13/2010

If you want to get your ego stroked and be asked every 3 minutes ""are you guys doing OK?"" save yourself some time and go to Fridays. This place is all about incredible, authentic Italian cuisine. Period. If you want your hand held and gushing server please go elsewhere, the rest of us could use the quicker waiting time. more

wellbridal 7/6/2010

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The faultfinder will find faults in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the alms-house as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace. The town's poor seem to me often to live the most independent lives of any. May be they are simply great enough to receive without misgiving. Most think that they are above being supported by the town; but it often happens that they are not above supporting themselves by dishonest means. Which should be more disreputable. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends, Turn the old, return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. more

Moved me to tears. 7/6/2010

I am Italian born and raised, and as such I take my food very seriously. After years of living abroad, I had resigned myself to only find good Italian food in my own kitchen. I am so grateful to my girlfriend for taking the time to find a place even I would love. The food was simply fantastic, the Veal Marsala in particular really had me speechless for how delicious and true to the original recipe it was. I found the atmosphere to be actually much closer to home than any other eatery. In all honesty, I do not dine out to chat with the wait staff, and really enjoyed not being disturbed every two seconds by a waiter in search of a good tip. The blackboard menu had a very nostalgic feel to it, it made me miss some of my favorite food joints, and the owner himself was happy to answer my doubt about what kind of pasta they used for amatriciana. When he heard that I really wish it could have been bucatini, he promptly told our waiter to serve it to me with the 'special pasta'. If you feel intimidated by the Italian names you should simply try asking, or better yet enlarge your knowledge of Italian food past the baked spaghetti at your local Greek-Italian diner. Their tiramisu was also fantastic and it was loaded with lots of gran marnier, not something you will see at a place trying to cut corners. Overall this was a fantastic dining experience and I look forward to the next chance I have to visit again. Pros: Italian food to rival my mother's Cons: No visa, But well worth a stop at the ATM. more

Where I would have my last meal 5/16/2010

I live in Houston, Texas but have been to Mamma Zu's on 3 different occasions when I was in Richmond visiting my friends in GWAR over the years. They took me there the first time in 2001 and I have been hooked ever since. Without reservation I would say that if I was on death row and allowed to eat one final meal (in the restaurant of course) I would pick Mamma Zu's the food is always to die for and with a large enough group you get such a wonderful array of different flavors. I gladly accept the fact that they only accept AMEX or cash and won't take reservations it's just part of the ambiance of the place. Waiting is just a good chance to sample the awesome wine and get fired up for your meal. I'm coming back to Richmond in early August for the Gwar-B-Q and counting down the days until I can say I've been to Mamma Zu's a fourth time! Pros: ambiance, food, food, & FOOD! more

eat well, entertain yourself. 3/17/2010

I moved to Richmond from France, having grown up traveling and eating around Italy. The food at Mamma Zu's is fresh, cooked well, and unpretentious. It easily rivals the best meals I've shared in restaurants and homes in Italy. We eat there about once a week and have never had a disappointing meal. \r As for the common complaints about the place, I really think Mamma Zu's embodies a very European restaurant culture, which is not superior to American dining culture, but is signifigantly different.\r I find the staff knowledable and not over bearing, it allows you to be absorbed in your date, group, or paperback without a ready pitcher of ice water hovering or having to exchange a bunch of half-hearted pleasantries with a waiter or waitress you don't know. Some people find this rude, but it can also be very relaxing not to have to chit chat and fein intertest in someone's feined interest about ""How are we doing today?"" The staff are professionals, it's obvious they work together as a well-oiled team and have a huge loyalty to the establishment, they don't make mistakes, but nor do they perform like monkies for tips. \r If you enjoyed being served by wait staff acting as servants, I can understand a sting of disappointment, but for many the feeling of being served by a fellow professional is much more comfortable than the waters cum lackies that one encounters who know nothing about food, and everything about striking up an instant repartee in a misplaced effort to make customers feel ""special"". \r I don't know what to say about folks who complain about waiting. I suppose they see the meal as a goal to be acocmplished, the sooner the better. I've personally never seen anyone die of starvation at or near the restaurant, so I can't help but think these exaggerated woes stem from customer's inability to entertain themselves or talk at length with the folks they came with. The wait is part of the experience of any meal, the chance to slow down and converse and build anticipation. If you make the wait part of the meal, leisurely and unrushed, perhaps it would not offend? \r I disagree that the decor is shabby chic or contrived in any way, it's merely utilitarian, comfortable, and pretty minimal. Again it is not there to entertain or distract, but rather allows you focus on savoring the meal without a lot of bells and whistles. \r I suppose all I wanted to say is that many of the things that seem to irk people about this restaurant can be positive points if perceived slightly differently. My recommendation would be to go with people you really like, people you really want to talk to and share a meal with, don't be intimidated by the menu-try something you haven't had before, consider the wait a time of leisure to chat and people watch and catch a glimpse of dishes you may want to order - have a glass of wine while you wait!, and try not to think that you're doing everyone in the restaurant a favor by eating there, consider the experience mutual. Pros: food more

Best Food, Anywhere 2/2/2010

First of all I'd like to address the alleged ""surliness"" of the staff - I've been going to 'Zu once a week for lunch for the past month and at least once a month for dinner for the past two years. I have never, EVER had a bad experience with any of the staff. Consider the amount of work they are doing before passing comments about their attitudes - and maybe check YOUR attitude at the door. If you want someone constantly bugging you every 2 minutes, you can always go to TGI Fridays, Applebee's, or some other establishment. That being said ... If you like Italian joints that have pictures of the Rat Pack on the walls and a phony ""Italian"" atmosphere, ""Zu ain't for you ... It's ALL about the food here. And fresher food I have yet to find. And it's always perfectly prepared with the proper balance of seasoning. Prices are more than fair and reasonable, with the most expensive item being the lamb chops. And they are worth every penny. The sweetbreads are borderline orgasmic. As is every dish on the menu. For what it's worth, I'm Italian and grew up in a HARD-core Italian Brooklyn neighborhood. We love our food. I've eaten in exactly ONE place that gave 'Zu a run for the money, and the only edge they had was fresh, home made pasta. Bottom Line: If you're into ""decor"" and generic ""Italian-American"" food, there are plenty of places in town for that. If you LOVE great food, Mamma 'Zu sets the standard. Pros: Freshest fish I've EVER had, Authentic dishes, Fair prices. Cons: Long wait if you hit it at the wrong time, but it's worth it more

Jaroche6 is lost 1/18/2010

Can you beat the food? Overall, you could try.... but probably not. The wine selection is perfect and reflects the taste and attitude of the owner. This establishment is not trying to be anything more than it is. A surly owned, bullish, dimly lit, Italian food corner joint. Pumping out a consistent product at a volume you couldn't even begin to comprehend. If you are in, prepare for sin. If you are out, like jaroche6, good riddance. Mamma doesn't need (or probably even want) you. Wake up Richmond, smell the monkey shit coffee. You are not the center of the universe. Every diner is merely a guest paying to play. That is, of course, unless you are allowed to play for free. Pros: food and wine, duh Cons: drugs and dave, duh more

Blacklisted 1/17/2010

My girlfriend and I have lived in Richmond going on two years now. We have yet to find a high quality Italian restaurant. We've tried Joe's Inn and Sidewalk Cafe (not strictly Italian or Greek), Chianti Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, and Mary Angela's off the top of my head. All of those restaurants are solid but nothing to write home about. I had heard by both word of mouth and praise over the internet that Mamma Zu's was superb. Last Friday we gave it a try. We will not be going back.\r \r First, you will read a lot of reviews praising the fact that it is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, very typical to Carytown. It is. With most small Carytown restaurants, there is a substantial wait, around 20-30 minutes. Of course, it was a Friday so we expected to wait. \r \r The atmosphere attempts to be reminiscent of a European restaurant. It fails miserably. It is very difficult to be homey and quaint, when there are 10-20 people standing around in the middle of the restaurant. \r \r Mamma Zu's tries so hard to be similar to a European restaurant that its menu can be found on a blackboard above the bar. A litany of Italian dishes, foreign to most Americans, are listed with absolutely no explanation. Oddly, you won't even find that in Italy! \r \r The following is a WARNING to all: Mamma Zu's only accept cash, personal checks, and American Express. Simply put, it does not accept Visa or Mastercard. \r \r The food: unique and quality. I have no real complaints about the food, but you can find similar quality elsewhere without the hassle. \r \r My summary of Mamma Zu's: A Carytown bar/restaurant trying to distinguish itself from the rest and succeeding; however, this distinction is no honor.\r \r My recommendation: Instead of making a trip to Mamma Zu's, try Athens Tavern, a Greek restaurant hidden across the street from Starbucks in Carytown. The food is amazing! The restaurant is spacious enough not to overcrowd in the same extent as Mamma Zu's. AND although it has a blackboard menu for specials (coupled with its normal menu), the wait staff impecably and tirelessly describes all the dishes without complaint. \r \r In addition, try Bistro 27, a French restaurant closer to downtown Richmond. It is spacious and the food matches and EXCEEDS anything Mamma Zu's has to offer. Pros: good food, unique Italian Cons: does not accept credit cards, long wait, little expensive more

BRAVO 1/10/2010

If your idea of Italia food is Olive garden, Carrabas and Macaroni grill this is not the place for you. Open mind and open mouth. Pros: I thought we were in Italy! Cons: Location kinda sketchy more
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Menu for Mamma Zu

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  • The Scene
    Those in the know line up around the building at 5pm. Once inside, the scuffed floors, chipped china and rickety tables don't deter diners. Real food lovers recognize each other...

  • 7/17/2006 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Payments:

    American Express, Cash
  • Neighborhoods:

    Fan - Oregon Hill - Carver, Oregon Hill