Bright pink pizza and pasta outpost follows Eccles back garden trailer
Build it and they will come. So goes the misquoted Kevin Costner line in Field of Dreams (1989). The shutter has not been up for two minutes at Lucky Mama’s on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton and already two people have poked their heads around the door and asked for a menu. Others walk past taking pictures.
When I first opened, all my neighbours, they come to me thinking I’m Jamaican. And they’re coming up to me going what are you doing bro? Rice and peas?
The eye-catching new pizza and pasta place and its vibrant pink shopfront are already coaxing people in like moths to a naked lightbulb. Dealing in fresh Roman-style pizza, Veneto-style pasta and a host of Italian-inspired sweet treats like dessert dough balls and cannoli, Lucky Mama’s is the evolution of an Eccles-born food truck dream.
What was once a food trailer grounded by the pandemic is now set to be Chorlton's newest neighbourhood Italian.
From the driveway to the highway
Lucky Mama’s, like many foodie pop-ups of late, was born out of lockdown. When owners Mamadou Dhiam and Gaby Santos first bought an airstream trailer in early March 2020 their dream was to take their pasta and pizza project on the road. Festivals, markets, outdoor events the lot. Then the pandemic hit and the trailer didn’t make it out of the garden.
But that didn’t stop Mamadou and Gaby from cooking. They set about making fresh pizza and pasta from the parked trailer and neighbourly word of mouth soon led to a wider pool of regular customers in Eccles, Patricroft and beyond.
Once restrictions were lifted the couple set about making up for lost time. As well as continuing to serve locals out of their garden, they took the trailer on the road. Festa Italiana, GRUB and The Whitworth’s Frost Fair all played host to the little black trailer with the bright red lips above it.
Soon the couple had outgrown their trailer operation and were on the hunt for a bigger space. They wanted to stay in Eccles but couldn’t find the right unit. The current Chorlton spot came up and everyone they spoke to urged them to take it. The opportunity was too good to turn down.
Rasta pasta and Roman pizza
Lucky Mama's does fresh pizza and fresh pasta. It also does focaccia sandwiches, coffee (shout out to Salford Roasters), desert dough balls and cannoli. Inspired by the food Mamadou ate as a kid growing up in Padua in the Veneto region of Italy, the pasta is of the Bigoli and Mafalda varieties which usually lends itself to fish and ragu, and the pizza is a thicker Roman style.
A welcome alternative for those who don’t fancy the incoming Neapolitan behemoth Rudy’s a few units up and local favourites Double Zero, two minutes down the road.
Mamadou is keen to highlight that the menu is for everyone. He is Muslim so he’s made an effort to craft recipes using halal beef and chicken. Notably, the ragu, which usually favours pork. There’s still pork on the menu elsewhere but it’s about making sure there are plenty of options to go around. Customers can choose from different styles of pasta and sauces that range from simple pesto to slow-cooked ragu.
Pizzas range from simple margarita to Mama’s Favourite, which packs tuna, garlic and herb prawns, onions and black olives. There are sweets too. A range of dough balls and cannoli. There are also some more unorthodox options too.
“When I first opened, all my neighbours, they come to me thinking I’m Jamaican. And they’re coming up to me going what are you doing bro? Rice and peas?” says Mamadou, laughing.
“And a thought came into my mind and I said no, I’m making Rasta pasta.” He says. “You won’t find this in an Italian restaurant. If you go there and ask for Rasta pasta they will show you the door.”
The aforementioned pasta is made with a creamy jerk spice sauce with garlic and parmesan cheese and sautéed mixed peppers and onions. It’s also one of the biggest sellers. There’s a jerk pizza topping too.
Branding to get you noticed
Having travelled the festival and events circuit with a black airstream trailer with a bright red pair of lips on the roof, Lucky Mama’s first bricks and mortar location was never going to be dull. The bright pink exterior continues inside with a feature wall, bright white tiled counter and open brickwork. People are going to want to take pictures in there. “All of our Italian friends are like why did you choose pink?” says Gaby.
Mamadou stresses the importance of casual dining to the Lucky Mama’s experience. He wants people to smile. He wants them to feel at ease and have fun. Him and Gaby are having fun making the food and running the business, he wants that to spill out.
The inside of the restaurant can currently sit about 12 snugly but there are plans to put seating outside too. Takeaway is also available so expect to see a lot of pink pizza boxes in Chorlton Meadows and Beech Road in the summertime. The branding has been clearly thought through.
Once Lucky Mama’s has settled, there are plans for more. A different focaccia sandwich offering, breakfast pastries (the pair say they can’t eat enough pistachio-filled croissants when they go back to visit Italy) and an offering that spans the day from 10am to 10pm.
As for the name, it’s maybe not as obvious as you might think.
“People think it’s Italian because of the word for mother but it’s Mamadou’s name. We had a few options.” Says Gaby. Mamadou continues.
“It’s been crazy. We’ve been very lucky. Everyone has been so supportive. Lots of customers. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been a lucky Mama.”
Lucky Mama's, 565 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 8AE
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