Francesco Mazzella came to the Bronx in New York from Italy in 1948 where he worked until 1951. While visiting a friend in Detroit, he met Mama who was working at Amatoe’s. It was love at first sight! Frank got a job at Amatoe’s, and said to Mama …”I’m gonna marry you!” Her response to his statement was“you’re crazy!”
But sure enough, on October 3, 1953, Frank and Mama were married. Following a short honeymoon, the newlyweds opened Ponza Pizzeria on October 23, 1953 on 8 Mile in Detroit. Their new establishment was the namesake for the island in Italy where Frank had been raised.
In 1956, one year after the birth of their first child, Silverio, they opened Frank’s Pizzeria in Walled Lake. Then in 1960 Frank & Mama sold Ponza Pizzeria
and Frank’s Pizzeria. The following year they opened Francesco’s on Joy Road in Westland. In 1967 the family expanded once again with the birth of their
second son, Francesco II. Sadly in 1970, Frank took ill and the family business, Francesco’s, was sold.
A year later, the doctor advised Frank to get back into business and while vacationing in northern Michigan, they discovered the old Pastie House that had been closed for seven years. After extensive remodeling (building new probably would have been cheaper!) Mama Leone’s Restaurant was founded, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Silverio met Tina, who worked as a waitress at the restaurant and in April of 1975 they were married. Mama’s was a huge success! Patronized by both local residents and tourists, it was necessary to expand the business. Frank and Mama built the present Mama Leone’s Restaurant just to the north of its previous location. They were open for business on May 10, 1976 serving only lunch and dinner. This paved the way for Uncle Frank’s Pancake House which was established in the former location and served breakfast and lunch.
In 1986, the family expanded another generation with the birth of Silverio III to Tina and Silverio. Then in 1988, Uncle Frank’s and Mama Leone’s were combined under one roof.
While visiting his native homeland of Italy, in 1991, Frank passed away.
In 1994, the family expanded once again with the marriage of Francesco II to Elizabeth, and again in 1996 with the birth of their son Anthony Francesco, and daughter Alexandra in 1999. Then came Madeline in 2002. And now Grace in 2007!
In September of 2008, the family expanded again with the marriage of Silverio III
to Jessica. Sadly, in the spring of 2014 Mama passed away. In July of 2016 Silverio III and Jessica welcomed a daughter, Rylee Rose! And so goes the story of how Mama Leone’s and Uncle Frank’s became one!