This week, we got with Cosimo Mammoliti, owner of the Terroni restaurants. Our aim? To understand how a chain Ital by way of Canada — there are two in LA, three in Toronto — wound up with some of the best, most authentic Italian food in Los Angeles.
Cosimo Mammoliti’s southern Italian empire is rooted in authenticity, starting with a pizza crust recipe that was developed old school. “I learned by making pizza dough by hand, we didn’t have a mixer, we used a little plastic bucket like what our grandmother used to wash the clothes in. We made it like that for many years, by hand, until we could afford to get a mixer. It was very slow, the process.”
Indeed, the Calabrese Canadian first opened an Italian food store in Toronto 23 years ago with four stools, an espresso machine, a deli counter, and calcetto game, like the one they have in their West Hollywood location. From day one, he and his Pugliese partner imported products from Italy to maintain their paesano rep and keep the recipes traditional. Every ingredient has been hand picked by Cosimo insisting that, “the materia prima is the most important. The olive oil, the tomatoes, the semolina flour, all of the products that we use for our base have got to be the best.”
And, like we said, authenticity plays. Food is an institution in Italy that runs deeper than, dare we say it, soccer. Other than a few dishes on the menu like tagliatelle al ragu, which originates from Bologna, the menu reads pure, unadulterated terrone. No, adding parmigiano is not an option.