Kitchen Nightmares - Mama Maria's - OPEN

Mama Maria's Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Mama Maria’s in Brooklyn, New York.

Mama Maria's is an Italian restaurant attached to Sal's pizzeria, owned by John Esposito. His parents Sal and Maria opened the restaurant in 1970 and he took over in 1990.

John became overwhelmed running both restaurants and focused more on the pizzeria, abandoning Mama Maria's in the process. The staff believe he is stubborn and unwilling to change.

Gordon arrives and notices that the front of the restaurant looks shabby with holes in the lettering of the restaurant.

He enters the pizzeria where he meets John, who tells him that he makes all of the pizza's and the problem is a lack of customers due to increased competition.

Gordon meets waitress Lori, who tells him the problem is a lack of leadership. He orders the tortellini di patate, spaghetti meatballs and the margarita pizza.

Server Fran brings the desserts to the table, one of the cakes is mouldy but this is explained to be okay as they are just for display.

The tortellini are bland and Gordon believes they are frozen, the spaghetti and meatballs also taste frozen and dry and the pizza was full of grease.

During the meal Gordon looks around the dirty decor and takes an over watered plant of a shelf that covers him and a diner in stagnant, standing water.

Gordon heads into the kitchen to talk about the food. He meets Joe, Oscar and Valentino who work the kitchen.

John tells Gordon that it takes too long to make the meatballs fresh but the Chef agrees that the food is poor and he has no control over changing the menu.

Gordon returns in the evening to observe a dinner service and notices that John stays in the pizzeria and the kitchen sends out food at a fast pace.

The food sent out is of very poor quality. A vegetarian customer finds a bone in her pasta as the sauce has meat in and another customer is found being sick in the bathroom.

Gordon inspects the lobster and finds it to be rotten and omitting a bad smell. An ambulance has to be called for the vomiting customer and Gordon shuts the service down.

Gordon arrives the next day and inspects the food storage. He is disgusted to find buckets of frozen pasta, meat and sauces covered in mould and with freezer burn. Nothing is dated or labelled and it is impossible to guess what some of the items are.

Gordon informs them that the sick customer is feeling better but lays out all of the bad frozen food he found to ensure it does not happen again.

Gordon tells John that he needs to let go of the past after he discovers that the Specials have not been changed since his parents passed away.

Gordon gives the restaurant a makeover, removing the awning and putting a new sign out the front of the restaurant.

The interior is given a makeover with new art and custom tablecloths and the menu is also updated to include fresh menu items with smaller portions.

On relaunch night, Gordon invites food critics, bloggers and writers from the New York Observer. The kitchen gets off to a good start but John is not managing his staff and is found at the bar.

He steps up to the task, mingles with customers and takes control of his staff.

After relaunch night, there are positive comments from the critics and the restaurant is on it’s way back to being a successful restaurant.

What Happened Next at Mama Maria's?

Business is reported to be up 10% in the restaurant.

Some old customers favourites have been returned the the menu as requested by customers but John has kept Gordon's revised menu in place, with a few minor tweaks to the dishes.

Yelp reviews are mostly positive after Gordon's visit. Recent reviews in 2019 appear to suggest that the seafood is frozen.

Trip Advisor reviews are also mostly positive, negative reviews relate to non-delivery of take out orders.

Planning a visit? Check our their website for opening hours and more info.

Mama Maria's was aired on November 09 2012, the episode was filmed in June 2012 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 6 episode 3.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - La Galleria 33

Next episode - Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine

This post was last updated in October 2019.


  1. I went to Mama Maria's one afternoon for lunch. I walked into the restaurant and walked around for at least 5 minutes. I picked up a menu. I called out "hello" several times and no one ever came out from the back.

    Maybe the place is cleaner. Maybe the menu is simpler. Maybe they are making money.

    But, I will never walk into this restaurant again.

  2. This is probably the only episode that the owner and most of the restaurant staffs are likable. And I'm glad they're not only still open, but thriving.

    1. I'm guessing because the guy was awkward, they couldn't really try to force him to put on a performance as they likely do with most other episodes. I don't know that I like him that much, but I can sympathize for him to some degree at least. It's one of my favorite episodes so far.

  3. Hands down the best episode I've seen. I bawled watching it... I love how Ramsey handled the whole situation with keeping his folks incorporated in the new design. I am genuinely happy that they are doing well. If I ever make it to Brooklyn I will definitely be stopping there! And on a side note I hope he finally does get to spend more time with his family :)

    1. I really felt like Gordon cared a lot about John and his restaurant. For some reason he seemed more determined than usual to help him thrive.

  4. I'm genuinely surprised that this place is still open. The guy was awkward, kind of dopey and didn't seem to have the slightest clue of how to run a business. Yet here they are. Good for them.

  5. Probably one of the better episodes that I have watched. I’m glad things worked out for the owner after Gordon left.


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