Restaurant Revisited: NY State of Mind at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria

by in Shows, March 26th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleChange — or a lack thereof — was at the foundation of Robert Irvine‘s mission at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., a Big Apple-style parlor specializing in family recipes. While Robert indeed identified several issues with the menu at Mama Della’s and noted that its interior decor was “very nondescript,” perhaps the most-critical problem plaguing the business was owner Barry Kalt, who Robert deemed “one of the most-cantankerous owners I have ever come across.” Given his long-standing beliefs in how true dishes and ingredients should be prepared and served, Barry was hesitant to make any meaningful updates to his business practices, which ultimately resulted in his son Andrew, a former cook at Mama Della’s, leaving the restaurant. It took a serious lesson from Robert for Barry to fully realize the error of his ways, and he soon committed to improvements in the future. After two days of renovations on a $10,000 budget, the Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Della’s, and FN Dish has the exclusive update from Barry on how his business is faring today.

“Mama Della’s saw a significant increase in customer traffic for the one-month period after the shoot,” Barry said. “Sales have increased by 30 percent over the same period in 2013.”

The menu at Mama Della’s is a mix of the restaurant’s original offerings, plus those that Robert instituted, according to Barry. “The menu changes set in place by Chef Irvine remain exactly as they were when he was in the restaurant,” he explained. “Nothing new has actually been added to the menu. We have been preparing certain specialty pizzas and sandwiches that were on the previous menu. These are being requested by customers who have been with us for a long time.” Barry noted that since the transformation, “certain menu items are reaching the guests in a more punctilious manner than was the case previously.”

Barry said that the new interior “is spectacular,” although he admitted, “[It] does not represent the look of a New York City pizzeria. My decor did represent it very well.” He added that diners have been pleased with the design updates and that “the decor has almost eliminated comments about price points that are too high.”

As for Andrew, he is not working at Mama Della’s today.

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Pasión Latin Fusion (March 19)
Tootie’s Texas BBQ (March 12)
Mill Creek BBQ Restaurant (March 5)
Estrada’s Restaurant (February 5)
Hillbillies Restaurant (January 29)
Spunky Monkey Bar and Grill (January 15)
Heather’s Country Kitchen (January 1)
Goombazz Big City Eatzz (December 18)
LBI Pancake House (December 8)
Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company (December 8)
Mike La Susa’s Italian Restaurant (December 4)
Seven (November 27)
Georgia Boy Cafe (November 20)
Coach Lamp Restaurant & Pub (November 13)
The Windsor 75 (November 6)
Ducky’s Family Restaurant (October 30)
Mama Campisi’s Restaurant (October 23)
Aponte’s Pizzeria (August 25)
Benner Street (July 28)
Hurley’s American Grille (July 21)
Kalico Kitchen (July 14)
Angelo’s (June 23)
Pier West Restaurant (June 16)
Pinehurst Country Lodge (June 9)
Bryan’s Smokehouse (May 26)
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)

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Comments (137)

  1. customer says:

    All I can say is barry is a knuckle head and needs his head examined! Your restaurant is sure to fail

  2. william says:

    hey guys, its not easy for old guys to change what they were brought up to believe and do their whole lives, i sympathize with him. but change is essential these days to survive in business. i wish the man all the best ,more important than a restaurant pops is your relationship with your son. get on it! we only have one shot at life , make the best of it . robert , your a great man !

    • @tylerarb says:

      I am older than Barry and am not as "understanding" of his attitude as some of the posters here./ His restaurant is a business, not a nostalgia trip. Times change and so do tastes. He came across on the show as being remarkably stubborn and resistant to making Mama Della's a success, which ought to be his goal. Though retro is a legitimate trend, there apparently are not enough customers in Baton Rouge who appreciate or want to relive the 1950s. Change of perish.

  3. Mark Wandrei says:

    Will try the restaurant for my staff at my dealership. Saw the clip that Robert Irvine did. Very interested in your business. Will contact you for my next's service and parts meeting. I hope I'm enthused in the product you produce. Good luck in the future

  4. ROXANNE says:

    GOD IS WITH YOU… BLESS YOU N YOUR SON… LOVE IS THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT YOU CAN GIVE EACH OTHER… WE HAVE A FAMILY BUSINESS IN FLORIDA,BARBER AND BEAUTY N WE ARE TRYING TO CHANGE IT UP ALSO .MY FATHER OPENED THE BARBER SHOP 27 YEARS AGO,DEL'S BARBER AND BEAUTY SALON. SEBASTIAN,FL. DID NOT KNOW THERE WERE PEOPLE LIKE ROBERT THAT WOULD COME N HELP CHANGE YOUR BUSINESS. GOD BLESS YOU ON YOUR NEW JOURNEY IN LIFE…

  5. Guest says:

    Barry is an idiot.

    • jay says:

      owner is a jerk… do not spend your money here the owner also the biggest jert i have ever meet before
      and the owner likes to be a big rode jerk.i well not go there. also my family members well not go there ever.
      he is a big jerk at a restaurant that i have ever accounted he is so rode there .
      DO NOT GO THERE!!!!
      from jay

  6. Blondenbusy566 says:

    This particular episode was especially frustrating for me to watch. Besides the fact that Barry was caught up in his past and unable to move forward, I COULDN'T STOP LOOKING AT HIS TWISTED, CROOKED EYEGLASSES!!
    Barry, spend a couple of bucks and get yourself a new pair!!

  7. Tammie Faul says:

    I went into the restaurant today and made a "to go" order. The young lady that waited on me, couldn't have been nicer. I was told it would take about ten – fifteen minutes. After twenty minutes, I asked her how much longer…she went and asked the cook, A/K/A Barry …his reply was loud and aggitated. "I just got the order ten minutes ago". I was among many that heard him. He was yelling at her. I felt so bad for this young lady. I asked for my money back…again, he was grumpy and ugly. I hope each employee can find better jobs and I will NEVER step foot in his restaurant again! I hate that Mr. Irvine wasted his valuable time with this man.

    • jay says:

      i agree with you i well never step in his restaurant i think that Mr. Irvine was wasted his time
      by repainting and making it bitter it was a wasted of time what do you say?
      from
      jay

  8. LJ says:

    I visited Mama Della's last week. I must say, I LOVED the new decor. I visited the restaurant before, so I had something to compare it to. I didn't feel like I was in BR. I had cheese pizza, and I thought it was delicious. The girl who waited on me was super friendly, and I received my food in a timely manner. I didn't meet the owner, but he was in the back cooking of course. I will definitely come back, and hope to bring some friends along with me. Keep up the great work!

  9. Dixie Amazon says:

    Wait until you read the the review from The Advocate yesterday! Sounds like they went back to doing everything the old way.
    http://theadvocate.com/utility/homepagestories/90

  10. Kat says:

    I haven't actually visited the restaurant, but I drive by almost every day on my way to work. There is harldy ever anyone there so I don't see how he can claim that sales are up. Sometimes there are so many days between seeing cars in the parking lot that I wonder if the restaurant is still actually open.

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