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Former owner buys back Bayside pizzeria

Sprio Polumes said he is not a believer in the statement that you can never go home.

The Bayside resident said that even though he sold his Mamma Bell’s pizzeria in 2007 to work on other ventures, he missed providing residents with great meals and service.

Since reacquiring the eatery at 47-40 Bell Blvd. in December, Polumes said customers have been returning in large numbers and eager to see what he has cooked up.

“It feels like I’ve never left,” he said.

Polumes has worked in the restaurant business for years and decided to be his own boss when he first bought the pizzeria in 2004. Although there are other pizzerias and Italian restaurants located on the boulevard, the owner said he made his different by putting extra care into each item on his menu.

“We pile on the toppings instead of placing them sporadically,” he said.

The customers enjoyed Polumes’ work and business was doing well, but he decided to move on to other ventures. In 2007, he sold the store to another owner after he got a job in the concession business that required him to travel all over the country.

Polumes said he would check up on the status of the space, which had become other restaurants over the years, and was dismayed at how each new business failed to find the same success he had.

The building also saw better days, when it was left abandoned and boarded up, a far cry from the brightly painted walls and spacious counter Polumes had when he ran Mamma’s.

“I was so crushed to see it like that,” he said.

The father of two decided to return and bought back the restaurant. On New Year’s Eve, he opened the new Mamma’s and made some changes to reflect the times.

Polumes offered lower prices on his lunch specials and pies. He said he knows times are tough and wants to do what he can to make his customers have a good meal without busting their wallets.

“We charge $5.50 for our chicken parmigiana hero lunch special,” he explained. “If you’re the average guy, what would you spend on a lunch?”

But lowering the prices did not mean lowering the quality of the food. Polumes said he has spent time enhancing his recipes and adding new dishes such as the pepperoni sticks appetizer.

So far, customers have welcomed Mamma’s return and are eager to see what else Polumes has in store this time around.

“People are saying that the pizza tastes better now and keep coming back,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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