The exterior of Mother’s Pizza (5710 Young St.) is a modern mix of grey cement cinder blocks, large windows trimmed in black, molding painted brick-red, and black triangular gables on the second story. It’s early evening and the windows glow with warm light from inside.
An antique apothecary cabinet sits inside the front door with one drawer pulled open to hold takeout menus. The inside door and casings enclosing the small foyer are fabulous with original wood patina, brass fixtures, and small panes of etched glass.
The main dining room of Mother’s is open with a mix of small marble-topped tables, larger hewn wood tables and one massive live-edge wood communal table in the centre of the room. A lighting arrangement of antique balloon whisks hangs suspended over the communal table. Other interesting décor elements include a display of hand carved wooden spoons on one wall with one metal ice cream scoop among the lot, two massive antique cast iron bank safes, and large apothecary jars on the bar with wrapped Charleston Chews, tiny boxes of Popeye cigarettes, and rolls of SweeTarts. With a brightly lit kitchen showcasing a wall with crisp black and white subway tiles and pizza oven (and soft soul music playing at just the right volume) it’s an interesting mix of antique, vintage, retro, and modern day vibes.
I order a nine-inch Tapenade pizza (Genoa salami, red onion, feta cheese, kalamata olive tapenade, mozzarella $14) with anchovies (extra $2) to eat in, and a nine-inch spicy Italian pizza (Italian sausage, red onion, hot pepper, tomato sauce, mozzarella $13) to take out.
My server diplomatically mentions the saltiness level of my pizza order with the addition of anchovies and I assure her I am not only aware but happy about it. I appreciate her bringing it up because it is often assumed that customers know what they are ordering, however, as I’ve seen firsthand, they often do not. Sometimes customers want to try something new without knowing what an ingredient is and they often don’t ask. Mentioning it in a way that didn’t make me feel stupid saves me the burden of returning a pizza because I don’t like it, and saves my server and the kitchen the cost of a remake.
My pizza arrives and looks amazing. A puffy golden crust topped evenly with ingredients is cut into six pieces. My server offers chili flakes or chili oil and I gladly accept the offer of oil. A small clean bottle, custom-branded as Mother’s Chili Oil, arrives filled with brilliant orange oil and dried chili peppers floating inside. I take a bite of pizza and it’s very good. Pieces of crisped Genoa salami mingle on top with thinly sliced red onions, small pieces of feta, my added anchovies, and small dollops of chopped basil in oil.
Under the mozzarella the crust has been spread with what tastes like crushed kalamata olives mixed with lemon zest. The crust is crisp, leaning toward dry, which as a purely personal preference is not my favourite. I prefer a more moist and chewy crumb however, flavour-wise my pizza is a win and I eat the whole thing I take the Spicy Italian pizza home and when we open it it’s still warm. The sausage is spicy and I can taste fennel seed. It’s not for me but my companion really liked it. He said the ratio of cheese and banana peppers to sausage was perfect.
From a décor, ambiance, and vibe standpoint, Mother’s is a great spot. Care and thought have gone into the design resulting in a cozy comfortable room to sit back and enjoy the ultimate comfort food. The service and menu are quick and casual with what I felt was great value for the dollar.
Judging by the steady stream of visitors, and number of phone calls received while I was eating, take-out is also another very popular option. With a few salads, a range of pizzas, plus wine, beer, and highchairs, Mother’s would be a nice choice for a date, business meeting, or family supper in the North End of Halifax.