Mama Milano Pizza Bar

Mama Milano Pizza Bar

By Tommy Hensel

In 1919, Papa Milano opened what many believe to be the first home-style Italian restaurant in Chicago. Fast forward nearly 100 years and his great grandsons continue the tradition with a small but mighty menu of delectable, iconic Italian offerings. Come here for some of the city’s best Neapolitan-style pizza. Don’t miss the famous spinach bread, a gooey stuffed treat filled with mozzarella, Romano, and mounds of fresh spinach. For dessert, the offerings are few but superb—the limoncello gelato alone is worth a trip to Old Town. If you have even the slightest hint of an outgoing personality, you will quickly feel like one of the family here, and you will certainly be well fed! Buon appetito!

the crowd

This is definitely a “local’s hangout.” Early in the evening it’s full of young families with kids. Later in the evening the crowd reflects the twenty- and thirty-somethings that populate Old Town.

... on the side

eye for design
Long and narrow, the space feels like more of a bar than a restaurant. In styling, Mama Milano exudes “Italian”—from the vintage Cinzano posters to the gilded chandeliers. And here’s an interesting factoid: The owners of Mama Milano were also the producers of the hugely successful hit show, “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding,” for over 17 years. Those same chandeliers appeared in the show.

what’s in a name?
Papa Milano was an iconic series of pizza restaurants in Chicago from the mid-century up until 2007. Joseph Tomaska, the great-grandson of the late restaurateur Papa Milano, opted to return to his culinary roots by opening a new pizza bar, this time calling it Mama Milano. For those whose taste buds remember, the famous Giuseppe pizza has finally returned: tomato sauce, mozzarella, olives, and salami. Now that’s Italian!



Mon–Wed 5 PM–10 PM; Thu 11:30 AM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 11:30 AM–11 PM; Sun 11:30 AM–10 PM

price range

$9 (cheese pizza) to $15.95 (chicken parmigiana)