Banchory’s best pizza is the hit of an Italian restaurant

You need to be strong to survive in the hospitality industry, especially in recent years.

Even the most hardened business owners have been brought to their knees, from the challenges created by the pandemic to the rising cost of living.

For Lesia Lutchman-Robertson, having to start over is all too familiar, after she was forced to close her beloved restaurant in Westhill due to the 2015 oil and gas recession.

But Lesia has nothing but stamina and hasn’t given up on her dream of running her own restaurant.

Lesia says she was warmly welcomed by the Banchory community.

Now the proud co-owner of Mamma Mia, a popular Italian restaurant in Banchory, Lesia, originally from Trinidad, thinks she’s finally found her footing.

Running the place alongside her daughter, Shinice Nelson, Lesia has met Society on all things pizza and pizazz.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hospitality is present in my family in Trinidad.

Most of the family members are top chefs, I have always been involved in hotel and restaurant management since a young age.

You’ll find fresh, authentic Italian cuisine at Mamma Mia in Banchory.

There were also always cookbooks lying around the place.

My mother owned two shops, she was a seamstress by trade.

She also taught crafts and sewing in schools and in the community.

Part of my business brain comes from her, and of course that feeling of independence.

How was Mamma Mia born?

So I first came to Scotland in 2005. I was co-owner of a restaurant, also called Mamma Mia in Westhill.

We ran for two years, but were forced to close in 2015 due to the oil and gas recession.

Lesia and her team rebounded after the first restaurant closed during the oil and gas recession.

We were only in Banchory for an afternoon when we spotted a vacant building.

The new Mamma Mia was born, we had an ideal market as there was no Italian food of any kind anywhere else in Banchory.

But wasn’t everything easy?

Absolutely not.

In fact, we just moved to new premises in Banchory in April this year, and that’s when things really took off for us in a good way.

Our old building was leaking, so we knew we had to find a new site.

It was always difficult and nerve-wracking.

A move means Lesia is now happier than ever, and Mamma Mia can be found on the main street of Banchory.

You don’t know how a relocation will go, but it turned out to be the best move ever.

It was a good time for us as we had outgrown the old premises, it had become stuffy.

Now we have a very important position on the main street.

What was your vision?

I wanted to create somewhere, really a place – so people didn’t feel like they were in Aberdeen anymore.

I wanted my restaurant to be a place where people could come and escape.

And my food? It must have tasted different from anywhere they had been before.

There is a wide variety of pizza toppings, as well as pastas and seafood.

The freshness, the flavors, the atmosphere; a place like nowhere else.

The atmosphere for me was paramount.

There is an open kitchen at Mamma Mia in Banchory.

Everything else can be good, but if the atmosphere is not good you will take a cold dish.

What was the absorption?

The response from the start has been excellent.

We have always been the reference for people in the region.

We do both dine in and take out, both are equally popular.

what will your order be at Mamma Mia in Banchory?

Even when we were forced to close due to the pandemic, people were calling us to check in.

We get people who come from Houston, who let us know when they will be there because they want to come back here.

We get such a wide range of clients.

What would you recommend on the menu?

Can I say everything?

Our Gambino pasta packets are such a light and fresh dish.

The flavor is amazing with spice and flavor.

Lesia prides itself on using the freshest ingredients for simple dishes.

As for the pizza, it depends on what you like.

However, we have a very varied menu. Toppings include Tuscan sausage, spicy jerk chicken, and creamy lemon mozzarella.

Our ingredients are the best.

We get a lot of Italian customers and I feel that’s the biggest compliment.

What do you think kept you open the second time around?

I continue to strategize. I also learned a lot from my brother, who owned restaurants in Tobago.

I worked there for a while and got great experience.

What sets Mamma Mia apart?

The atmosphere, I love.

We offer customers an environment a little more difficult to find in a restaurant elsewhere.

We party with customers and are friends with everyone.

Mother and daughter Lesia Robertson and Shinice Nelson think Mamma Mia stands out in part for its fantastic atmosphere.

School kids line up at recess for food, that’s where we hit.

They bring their parents, and the parents always rave about what their children say about us.

It’s an open kitchen here, so customers can see their food being cooked right in front of them.

When you order your pizza, we hand roll each dough to the correct size.

What’s next for you?

My clients who have moved away from the area are still looking for places to open.

I am looking for new premises and I think that the small villages will benefit more.

Especially for the young people of the village, who can have the opportunity to learn a trade.

When I arrived in Banchory, I did not expect to feel so accepted.

Lesia thinks the community has supported her from the start.

It’s like I belong here, you don’t have that feeling in big cities.

Even when I was moving, the love I received from the community was incredible.

Everyone was behind us, it was overwhelming.

I couldn’t do this without the community.

For more information, look for the team on Facebook @Mamma Mia Banchory, or visit their website at www.mammamiabachory.co.uk

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[Best pizza in Banchory spells Italian restaurant success]

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