It seems like such an obvious question – “What’s behind the name MoMo?”
Anthony Bonelli – owner and CPO (chief pizza officer) of MoMo Pizzeria & Ristorante – explains that in Italy, “Momo” is a nickname for grandmother. And indeed, such was the term he used to refer to his grandmother.
That type of family-feeling and warmth carries over into the atmosphere of MoMo as a down-to-earth neighborhood pizzeria that offers some additional dining options.
Opening its doors in March of last year, MoMo’s pizza is a true Neapolitan pizza – hand-tossed and baked in a Neapolitan-style, wood-fired stone hearth oven, says Bonelli. A 30-year veteran in the food industry, Bonelli exercised his professional skills as a restaurant consultant to determine that the restaurant’s site was a positive one – good visibility, convenient access, positive customer demographic and a demand for a restaurant like MoMo in the area.
And he brought in the quality of staff that he felt the restaurant would require, such as General Manager Chad Hoffman, previously cellar wine manager at The Oven, and Executive Chef Jonah King from Venue and Carmela’s Bistro.
“We’re pushing the edge a bit at MoMo,” Bonelli says. “Thanks to things like the Food Network and the growth of foodies, it’s okay to try something different. I thought Lincoln was ready for my type of restaurant.”
According to Bonelli, MoMo works at providing a balance in food and tastes. “We might not fit everyone, but those that we do will really like us.”
He emphasizes that the restaurant sources local produce as much as possible and makes many of its items fresh and from scratch, from soup stock to grinding its own hamburger and making its own mozzarella – even its own limoncello and grenadine.
The restaurant’s lunch crowd generally comprises baby boomers, who carry over into dinner, plus millennials.
MoMo’s menu changes every three months, reflecting the availability of seasonal ingredients. (The current menu adjustment will occur after the L Magazine print deadline, so some of the following menu choices may not be available.)
The MoMo menu offers 11 contorno, or side dishes, ranging from Antipasto or Bruschetta ($7) to Meatballs al Forno ($10) or Steak Tip and Mushroom Polenta ($13). Salad offerings include Caesar or House ($7), Heirloom Caprese or Wedge ($8), Grape and Gorgonzola ($11) or Spinach Salmon ($12). Seasonal soup is prepared daily ($4 cup/$7 bowl).
Four red and four white pizzas are listed on the menu. The Rosso includes Margherita (San Marzano pizza sauce, mozzarella, sea salt, olive oil and basil, $9), Hamburger (coarse ground beef chuck, Spanish onion, shitake, sharp cheddar, $11), Pepperoni (natural cured pepperoni, pepperoncini, mozzarella, oregano, $12) and Seafood Cioppino (clam, calamari, shrimp, spicy cioppino sauce, mozzarella, romano, $16).
The Pizza Bianco choices are Prima Vera (artichoke, black olive, Spanish onion, red pepper, arugula, mozzarella, $11), Italian Sausage (house-made fennel sausage, mustard greens, garlic confit, mozzarella, sea salt, $12), Prosciutto & Egg (three over-easy eggs, mozzarella, sea salt, olive oil, prosciutto, arugula, $12) and Chicken & Artichoke (cedar chicken, bacon, artichoke, provolone, $13). There is also a weekly featured pizza ($12).
Sandwiches include an Italian ($8), Cedar Plank Chicken ($9), Meatball ($9), Beef Giardiniera ($11) and Piedmontese Reuben ($12).
A dozen items comprise the Pasta and Entrata section: Naked Capellini ($9), Baked Tortellini ($12), Shrimp and Parsley ($13), Spaghetti and Meatballs ($13), Spaghetti Bolognese ($14), Baked Cannelloni ($14), Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo ($14), Duck Mostarda ($17), Pork Loin Almondine ($17), Steak and Frites ($18), Cedar Plank Salmon ($19) and Seared Scallops ($20).
Want some dessert? There is biscotti ($4), gelato or a seasonal flourless torte ($6) or at $7, a choice of tiramisu or chocolate panna cotta (candied pecan and maple glazed bacon).
From MoMo’s kitchen staff to servers and bartenders, Bonelli said he tries to have the most talented people he can find to focus on pleasing the restaurant’s customers.
Bonelli wants his guests to gather and enjoy MoMo’s food, the company they are with, and to stay a while. “Be comfortable,” he says. “Jeans, sweat suits, whatever! MoMo is like an Italian café, not fancy or flouncy – just a pizza and tapas type of restaurant.”
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