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Call it a labor of love three years in the making. Mamma Lucia by the Bay opened on Monday, August 21 to the excitement of restaurant-goers in Calvert County and beyond.
The Tuscan-orange building has the distinction of being Chesapeake Beach’s only two-story restaurant with a rooftop deck. Outdoor dining is available on both the deck and a patio.
“I really wanted to find something near the water,” says Maria Lubrano, co-owner with husband Sal of Calvert’s Mamma Lucia enterprise. “When I learned that this building was for sale, I inquired immediately.”
Built on the former site of the old Chaney’s restaurant on Route 261, the location has a long history as a family-owned business.
The Lubranos aren’t the only ones thrilled to see the new restaurant open.
“Quality businesses have positive reputations and effect the communities around them,” says Gregory Morris, a Chesapeake Beach town council member. “Mamma Lucia will be a healthy addition to the Twin Beach community.”
Even though this is Maria and Sal’s third Calvert County location and will carry on the tradition of serving authentic southern Italian cuisine, diners should expect Mamma Lucia’s by the Bay to be a little different.
Two kitchens — each with its own chef — are unique to the Chesapeake Beach location. The main kitchen services an upscale dining room featuring fresh, classic Italian fare. The second kitchen services the nautical-themed bar and features a custom-made, wood-burning pizza oven, direct from Italy.
This menu will be different from the other Mamma Lucia locations in Dunkirk and Prince Frederick. Lubrano says they are incorporating more seafood, plus “natural ingredients and cage-free products.”
As with the other Mamma Lucia restaurants, the Chesapeake Beach location will be family-run. Enrico ‘Rico’ Lubrano, one of the couple’s triplets and a graduate of John Carroll University, manages the new Chesapeake Beach location. His sister Rita will assist with management.
“This is truly an example of building something from the ground up,” Rico says.
Maria Lubrano is intimately familiar with family-run restaurants. “I grew up in a kitchen,” she said. “I lost my father when I was five years old, and my mom had six kids to raise. She owned a deli, and we worked there.”
At 14, Maria came to the United States for the first time. Her brother had emigrated earlier and had already opened the first Mamma Lucia in Prince George’s County. “I was a typical teenager. I missed my friends and my home.” She returned to Italy.
Years later, still in Italy, she met and married Sal Lubrano, who worked in construction. When Sal became unhappy in his job, Maria’s brother extended an invitation to return to the U.S. and learn the restaurant business. “My brother taught Sal all he knows about running a restaurant,” she says.
In 1997, Sal and Maria were ready to branch out on their own. They opened their first Calvert location in Dunkirk, expanding the building over the years. A decade later, they opened a location in Prince Frederick. Fast-forward 10 more years and the third location is finally open.
“Seven is a good number,” Lubrano says, realizing a pattern in the important events in her life. “All of my restaurants opened in a year ending in seven. My kids were born on September 27, and my grandson was born April 27.”
Here’s hoping the remainder of 2017 continues to prove lucky for the Lubranos and Chesapeake Beach.