When Maurizio Nicita moved from Sicily to Union City 12 years ago, he came with big dreams, the spirit of adventure, and the love of Mom’s cooking. Six months ago, he and his other half, Nadia Zapata, opened their first restaurant “Viva La Mamma” in Union City, which caters to a variety of palates.
Special dishes often get added to the menu at the eatery at 426 32nd St. The couple also added art, including an exhibit that is running through mid-January.
The works in oil on canvas were created by R. Dario Cano A., a Colombian-born painter with a fondness for abstract strokes in hues of green, blue, yellow, and orange. He said last week that though he paints a variety of subjects, this particular exhibition focuses on an Amazonian theme of women and their dignity.
“Just like when you go to your mother’s house, she’s making something new, so do we,” – Mauricio Nicita, co-owner of Viva La Mamma restaurant.
The art will be on display at the restaurant until Jan. 19.
Nicita and Zapata
The duo running the restaurant said they enjoy serving food that provides a resemblance to what one’s own mother would make at home.
“Just like when you go to your mother’s house, she’s making something new, so do we,” said Nicita.
“Viva la Mama!” serves dishes that range from classic Italian pasta and sandwiches to Latin favorites such as pastries filled with meat or other fillings, called Empanadas. They also serve cappuccino the way it is served in Italy, with a heaping dose of frothy steamed milk and a pinch of cocoa powder on top.
“My favorite is their eggplant parmagiana,” said Jimmy Lopez, a patron and friend of the couple.
A different patron who was feasting on a chicken parmagiana sandwich said he ate there almost every day.
‘Don’t give up. Move!’
Zapata said that though their quest to follow their dreams has come with a lot of around-the-clock work, they were happy to be able to start their business so quickly. Zapata, who also works part-time as a stewardess for an international airline, also works full-time at the restaurant. And to perfect his recipes, Nicita traveled back to Italy to make sure his dishes were authentic and just like his mother made them.
“The most difficult part was getting the paperwork such as permits,” said Zapata.
Nicita added that the anxiety of preparing for opening day was the most difficult for him. They both tend to the restaurant themselves with no other employees. “It’s like our baby,” said Zapata.
When asked if the recession gave them any worries, they both agreed that their prices were comfortable for patrons and they planned to keep their menu inexpensive.
Then Nicita added, “You can’t give up! If the economy is bad, you can’t sit around and wait for things to get better. You have to move!”
Zapata then said with a smile that the money that their customers spend at their restaurant is likely to circulate in the area since the couple lives nearby. “The money spent here today will get spent tomorrow [next door],” said Zapata.
For more information on R. Dario Cano A. visit his website at: www.canoarredondo.com. Viva la Mamma restaurant can be reached at (201) 392-3898 or through their website www.vivalamammadeli.com
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at email@example.com