In Praise of Mothers and Millennial Diners with Big Mamma Group Founder, Victor Lugger

Restaurateur and Big Mamma Group founder, Victor Lugger – of Paris-based Ober Mamma and London-rooted Gloria fame – knows how to cater to millennial diners.

Lugger is the man responsible for satiating our cravings
Italian food
while in Paris.
Now he’s paying London
the same courtesy, rolling out trattorias across the city.
Shoreditch-based Gloria – the lemon-hued, 1970s Capri-style eatery
serves up Neapolitan-style pizzas and a lofty lemon meringue pie on
hand-painted delftware – is the first in his UK roster.

Gloria’s fanciful innards – designed by Studio Kiki – challenge
Pink Mamma‘s much-Instagrammed
interiors. The Pigalle-based Pink Mamma is decked out with a
Pinterest boards’ worth of whimsical trellising, objet d’art and
rustic paint work. Flush-inducing examples aside, it’s hard to say
whether the food or the furniture is the more palate-pleasing
component to Lugger’s lucrative dining equation.

Expatiating on why Naples is a gastronomical
paradise, making a case for walk-in only restaurants and explaining
why “punny” menu titles are an underrated extra-curricular, Victor
Lugger might be guilty of making a meal of things, but with good
cause. For him the secret to his restaurateur success lies in
“offering good food at a reasonable price. If the ambiance and the
design join the equation then it turns into the perfect spot.”

How did Big Mamma Group come about?

Big Mamma was born from a deep desire to bring back all the
warmth and generosity of small trattorias in Italy – a very unique
and familiar atmosphere, with incredibly authentic and generous
food. We opened our first restaurant East Mamma in 2015 in Paris, a traditional and popular
trattoria, followed by seven restaurants, all of them with a
special focus on Italian specialties: Mamma Primi and its amazing
fresh pasta; Pizzeria Popolare and its wood-fired pizza menu. Then came Gloria,
our first trattoria in London.

Why the name Big Mamma?

La mamma, in Italy, is sacred. She embodies the warmth,
generosity and the delicious cuisine which you can find on our
menus. Speak to our chefs – they’ll all agree that their mothers
are one of the main source of inspiration for their cooking.

Gloria has created a serious buzz in Shoreditch; what is the secret
to creating a buzz-worthy restaurant?

When you enter Gloria Trattoria, you’re immediately transported
to Italy. It may be because our entire team is Italian or maybe
because everything is sourced there, from the produce to all the
small objects and design details you can spot in the

Why Italian food?

My associate, Tigrane, was bathed in the Italian culture from a
young age and I always had a deep passion for Italian food. It
started during my childhood, growing up in Alsace with a father who
would often travel to northern Italy for business. He used to bring
home Grissini breadsticks and San Daniele ham from his trips, which
I loved and haven’t forgotten since.

Best food spots in Paris…

The Aligre market neighbourhood in 11th district has the best
food spots; really great atmosphere in an area popular with
Parisians. Brunch at the café Oberkampf or lunch on the
top floor of Pink Mamma near Pigalle – order the Fiorentina steak
on the grill. Moissonnier, for the best bottle of wine in the city
and why not, the world. It’s unmissable. The list is infinite,
Paris is full of surprises.

Why do you think walk-in only restaurants work so well?

A restaurant is a balance between several factors, but the most
important is the sincerity of the approach. We’re strong believers
that a restaurant works if the food is good, reasonably priced and
served with a smile. From that moment on, whether it’s walk-in or
reservation based, the restaurant will be popular.

Your restaurants are full of personality – from the wittily
named menu items to the whimsical interiors – how do these ideas
come to fruition?

We all have a lot of fun making puns and twisting things up on
our menus. As for the interior, we have an amazing in-house design
team, Studio Kikki. They travel around Europe to find antique objects
and furniture pieces. Everything is thought out from scratch every
time, which gives a unique identity and personality to each

The best places to eat when in Italy?

I would say, the entire region of Emilia Romagna, especially for
the tortellini from Piacentini in Pacienza. Naples is a gastronomy
paradise, not only for the Neapolitan pizza, but also for the
inimitable spaghetti alle vongole and the gnocchi alla sorrentina
and the baba al rum. Alba, the town of white truffle, is always a
great stop, also known for its incredible wines, which has inspired
us for our 50 Barolo references at Gloria.

What other cities can we expect to see your restaurants crop up
in soon?

For now, we’re very focused on London, a city which excites us
with its energy, great service and laid-back restaurants and an
unrivalled passion for food. We’re really excited to be here, it’s
like a dream.

What are you reading at the moment?

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – a timeless masterpiece that
everyone should read. It explains how to stay humble and serene
when facing different life events or things which are out of your
control. A real learning tool.

What podcasts and TV shows are downloaded for your next

La Tribune des critiques de disques. It’s a French podcast and
describes and compares classical music sounds and pieces. I
strongly recommend it for amateurs, the recent episode on Requiem
of Fauré is magical.

One piece of advice to live by…

“If it’s not too big, it’s not big enough”

And finally, what’s in your SUITCASE?

I try to live by the following mantra: “live light, travel
light, spread the light”.

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