It may not look like Mom's house, but one new Tampa restaurant sure feels like home.
"Upscale casual" is what owner Joseph Busicchia and executive chef Primo Amicucci are calling their Westchase eatery, Mother's. According to the duo, the restaurant offers a great time and great food, with all the perks of feeling at home.
Busicchia and Amicucci, who worked together at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant for four years, agreed that Westchase didn't need another sports bar. Their goal was comfort food, but a little different. Mother's opened at 12227 W. Linebaugh Ave. last month after the space's intensive, five-week transformation.
"People come here expecting what was here before. They want 'that sports bar,'" Busicchia says.
Instead, guests can expect a family-friendly setting, live music, craft cocktails, comfort food dishes and a few televisions set to sports channels. In about a month, brunch is expected to roll out, too.
Mother's has a rotating clientele base. When its doors open, the restaurant is full of families and children; later on, it's a little different.
"We have table games for them to play, like mini Jenga and Connect Four," Busicchia says. "At 9 p.m. the couples come and it becomes a little more 'adult' when the live music starts, then the late-night menu kicks [in] as the night dwindles down."
Amicucci, who's been a part of 46 restaurant openings that range from South Beach to South America, says he aims to make each one different.
At Mother's, the chef develops dishes that people generally go to for comfort, including lamb chops. But rather than dousing the meat in mint jelly, he uses a mint pistachio pesto to produce an unexpected difference that still pulls the plate together. Though prosciutto-wrapped scallops, another menu item, sound decadent with a creamy crab rosé base, Amicucci lightens the bite with a shaved citrus fennel salad.
Purchasing pork products and micro greens from local farms, the restaurant also has plans to grow produce at its own farm in the near future.
Specialty cocktails are designed and managed by Joel Olinksi. Honing his craft for 15 years, the head mixologist has worked for Blue Martini and all over the country.
Diners indulge in the Drunk Piggy, Olinksi's interpretation of an Old Fashioned garnished with candied bacon, or the Mother Pucker, a vodka-based mixed drink showcasing a limoncello popsicle as an added treat (and ice cube replacement).
According to Busicchia, who's been in the restaurant business for 22 years, he wanted to step away from the corporate way of restaurant management. He's sought to create a family between Mother's management, staff and guests.
"We value food, family and friends," Busicchia says, adding that there's no separation between the front and back of house. "We're breaking the barriers from corporate-world dining and making it a family."
Amicucci also supports an imaginative atmosphere in the kitchen. He gives each member of the kitchen an opportunity to create a new dish, and if the rest of the staff likes what they taste, the plate is featured on the menu as a "chef recommendation" for the week.
"I don't want people coming in and thinking, 'This is what I'm cooking for the rest of my life.' I'm not one to say this is all you can do," Amicucci says. “As a chef, this is our art. Never take that creativity away."
Because of this, the restaurant makes changes to its menu fairly regularly.
Mother's operates 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Sunday, with live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.