Mama Cozza’s? Mama-mia, what a meal…

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So we’re sitting in the cave-like lighting of Mama Cozza’s, entranced by the signed photos of sports legends  Stan Musial, Joe Torre and Duke Snider, and the founder of the eatery, Frank Cozza, labors over, leaning on a smooth beauty of a cane, sits down and gives us the story behind the 47-year-old favorite of locals.

Frank, who hails from Westchester, N.Y., transformed from an Anaheim cop to a restaurateur, using the recipes he'd learned via "Mama” from her days down along the boot in that European masterpiece of a nation.

So we’re sitting in the cave-like lighting of Mama Cozza’s, entranced by the signed photos of sports legends  Stan Musial, Joe Torre and Duke Snider, and the founder of the eatery, Frank Cozza, labors over, leaning on a smooth beauty of a cane, sits down and gives us the story behind the 47-year-old favorite of locals.

Frank, who hails from Westchester, N.Y., transformed from an Anaheim cop to a restaurateur, using the recipes he'd learned via "Mama” from her days down along the boot in that European masterpiece of a nation.

Mama was protective when it came to her recipes and long after Mama Cozza’s opened in Orange County, though she still lived in New York, she would call to make sure that the exact amount of oregano, herbs and other ingredients were being used properly for the dishes.

Did I mention that Frank reminded me of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”? I wanted to put a cat in his lap…

I happened on one of the most memorable quotes of the evening while venturing to the restroom.  On the wall was a 1967 review of the place by another newspaper and The Godfather had bemoaned how quickly people go about their dinners. He was doing all the cooking at the time and told the reviewer something along these lines: “I put this beautiful meal in front of them and they hurry through and leave, like there's a war on. I don't know.  Seems like people have lost their talent for eating.”

The restaurant is now run by three of the 10 children.  Frank Jr. stands at the helm and tweaks the recipes to make sure the customers get what they want.  Concetta Cozza Paige, named after Mama, takes care of the banquets and continues work the floor on the weekends.  And Gloria Cozza de la Torre, who has a salad named after her on the menu, leads the wait staff.

I heard about the renowned Mama Cozza’s and was tickled when I learned just this past week that it was replayed as a feature on the hit TV show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.”

Apparently, Guy Fieri reveled in the chicken pisano, linguini domerly and Mama’s special pizza. 

Other notable TV personalities and sports stars, such as Ernest Borgnine, Vince Ferragamo and Pat Haden have made Mama Cozza’s their go-to joint in the Anaheim area. The Godfather doesn’t care much for baseball but loves football and used to feed the Los Angeles Rams when they played at Angel Stadium. 

On the weekends a local neighborhood duo, Bill and Gary, sing in the bar and host an open mic for others from the area who also have talent (or not). 

Normally I would wax on about the food but Mama Cozza’s features more than food, which is by the way delicious.  You can get deli sandwiches, pizzas, specialty pastas, veal, chicken and steak dishes and let’s not forget the famous Mama Cozza’s special sauce made with fresh ingredients. 

As The Godfather says in his matter-of-fact way: “We don’t serve nothin’ out of the can.” 

As for Fieri? Well, once wasn’t enough. He’s been back several times with his family after featuring the establishment on his show.

 

What I noticed after feasting with the Cozzas for more than two hours, devouring lasagna, mostaccholi and Frank Jr.’s egg-less twist on tiramisu, was that those around me – Mama-mia, hoist a shot of annisette – revived their talent for eating.

Mama Cozza’s

2170 West Ball Road

Anaheim, CA 92804

714-635-0063