‘Stop & Smell the Gardenias’ in New Outdoor Oasis at Mamma’s Kitchen

"The customers supported us during this past year and that was a big thing because if we didn’t have them this would be a completely different story."

Chief Operations Officer, Ahmed, and Owner, Ioannou, looking forward to your visit. (Photo: Kelli Goel)
Chief Operations Officer, Ahmed, and Owner, Ioannou, looking forward to your visit. (Photo: Kelli Goel)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Mamma’s Kitchen, nestled just off Richmond Highway in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, transformed their patio as a thank you to their patrons for the amazing encouragement given this difficult past year.

Husband and wife team Marianne Johnnides and Konstantine Ioannou have created “a little simplistic getaway that caters to our clientele.  I don’t see it as our patio. I see it as the customer’s patio.  This is yours to enjoy,” says Johnnides.  Her husband, Ioannou, lovingly planted every tree, bush and flower in their new sanctuary.

Stop & Smell the Gardenias sign
Stop & Smell the Gardenias at Mamma’s Kitchen in Alexandria. (Photo: Kelli Goel)

Dine under the fragrant wisteria, with its gorgeous trellis providing natural shade, while enjoying the views and aroma of fruit trees which include persimmon, pear, apple, plum, chestnut and fig.  Feast beside their operational vegetable and herb garden.   Take in the sweet smells of the 30-year-old lemon tree and gardenias (Johnnides’ mother’s favorite flowers), which have been transplanted from the home she grew up in to now share with her customers.

Enjoy your lunch in the beautiful garden during the day, but you must return for dinner in the evening to experience the equally magical elements.

THE UNCERTAINTY AND UNKNOWN WAS UNSETTLING

Many early days during the pandemic Johnnides and Chief Operations Officer, Ramsha Ahmed would idly sit waiting for the phone to ring, letting customers know they were open for business.  Luckily their clientele had already established during their past 11 years in business.  Johnnides says, “The customers supported us during this past year and that was a big thing because if we didn’t have them this would be a completely different story.  Because of their loyalty, it just makes us want to work harder to make sure that not only does the food look and taste good, but the service is good as well.”

Hummus, tzatzki and feta spread make of the trio dips appetizer. (Photo: Kelli Goel)
Hummus, tzatziki and feta spread make of the trio dips appetizer. (Photo: Kelli Goel)

MEDITERRANEAN INSPIRED FOOD

I always order the Trio Dips when I dine at Mamma’s Kitchen.  Served with pita bread, the flavorful hummus pairs nicely with the spicy feta spread, which in turn is cooled down with the tzatziki.  On this visit I also sampled their delicious Fettucine Alfredo Pasta with a touch of marinara sauce and added vegetables.  My new favorite dish on their Spring menu is the  Salmon Kale Couscous Salad.  Perfectly cooked Parmesan-crusted salmon is seared and served over kale, couscous, cranberries and butternut squash which is tossed in an apple vinaigrette.

Other popular offerings right now include: Shrimp Basilico, Chicken Parmigiana and Fried Calamari.  Dough and sauce are made daily for pizzas cooked in their brick oven.  Johnnides comes from a family of restaurant owners and she follows the same recipes she grew up with in preparing the Mediterranean food she serves.  Salads are dressed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemons.  Vegetables are cooked using olive oil and not butter.

The salmon kale coucous salad is a go-to favorite. (Photo: Kelli Goel)
The salmon kale couscous salad is a go-to favorite. (Photo: Kelli Goel)

And speaking of olive oil, Johnnides owns EVOO at Mamma’s Market right next door.  At this time, call the restaurant to place your order for the variety of oils, vinegars and flavored pastas.  Future plans are in the works to expand the dining room and connect these establishments.

Another way Mamma’s Kitchen has been able to survive this tough pandemic is by working with New Hope Housing, a non-profit in the area which supplies dinner to low-income families who have Covid.  Five days a week they provide dinner to between 90-120 people a day in local hotels.

Mamma’s Kitchen would love to help treat Mom this Mother’s Day.  Walk-ins welcome for spaced-out inside and outside seating.  A special outdoor space allows for a party of up to 12 to dine together. Seating happens on a first come basis.  Dine in, pick up, or use online delivery (using Door Dash, their website or new app) to enjoy with your family at home.  Catering also available.

The new magical outside oasis at Mamma's Kitchen is magical. (Photo: Kelli Goel)
The new magical outside oasis at Mamma’s Kitchen is magical. (Photo: Kelli Goel)

Located near the Mt. Vernon Shopping Center, Mamma’s Kitchen is at 7601 Fordson Road.  Currently open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. They are currently hiring, so please stop by if you are interested in becoming a part of their restaurant family.

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