Monday, February 3, 2014

Mama Luigi's Restaurant, Spring Hill

Back in the 1960s Brisbane's dining out scene was quite sparse, unlike today where there is a cafe or restaurant in almost every suburb. In those days there were a couple of decent restaurants in the city and beyond that you were looking at a pub counter meal.

One restaurant that I remember fondly from back then was Mama Luigi's on St Pauls Terrace in Spring Hill. For many of us it was our first foray into Italian cuisine - I had certainly never eaten garlic or pasta at home before that time.

That Mama Luigi's no longer exists, although I think the name has been re-used by others. I recently came across a couple of nostalgic images of the original restaurant and its staff.

Here they are. Firstly, the venue itself - it is clearly a converted house. And I think that taxi at the front could be from one of our now-defunct cab companies, Blue & White.
(Photo: BCC-S35-9311262)

Next, some of the restaurant staff looking extremely cheerful. The range hood seems a little on the grimy side though.
(Photo: National Archives of Australia)

There are a few reminiscences about Mama Luigi's on the internet. I like this one that I found on the 1 million Women site:
"I remember many years ago there was an Italian restaurant just like this in Brisbane called Mama Luigi's.  The American soldiers who were stationed in Brisbane and of course Australian families and friends frequented this place regularly. There were long tables and people sat with other people and really enjoyed the experience.of making new friends as everyone liked to talk with each other..." 

tff

10 comments:

  1. Hi foto fanatic, I'm so glad you're back doing that thing you do :) Love reading all your snippets of Bristown history.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment - I appreciate it!

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  2. Ugly restaurant front but delicious and exotic food, apparently.

    I probably told you about remembering the first espresso machine imported from Italy in 1956. The Olympic Games gave Australia a great old nudge towards modernity and European night life.

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    1. Yes Hels, though I think that Brisbane took a lot longer to move into a cosmopolitan atmosphere than did Melbourne. Brisbane was still rather quaint in the 1960s.

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  3. Ah fond memories! Coming to Briz in 1963 from Sydney it was a step back in time and Mama Luigi's was one of the brighter spots. They beat the heck out of T-Bones, flattened them to a plate-size, crumbed and fried them. Something else! Tender as …
    Then there was the Windmill on Petrie Terrace, about all that was open after 9 at night - the extent of Brisbane's night life in the 60s.

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    1. Exactly! And most Brisbane diners sat down with a glass of beer next to their plate. Ordering wine with a meal was almost unheard of.

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  4. I love your posts! I am your new follower. :D

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  5. We used to go regularly to Mama Luigis in 1953 and 54. It cost 2/6 per person for all you could eat. When all the seats at your table were taken the kitchen would send out a huge platter of the night's main dish, and once that was empty you could get a replacement from the servery. There was no choice - you went on chicken night, veal night or spaghetti bolognaise night. If you were lucky, Bob Dwyer was in the house in which case you got meatballs with your spaghetti. I can't remember ever being offered a dessert, but you didn't need one because you were so full from the main course.

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    1. Sounds like bargain rates Frank!

      I didn't go there before the late 60s, but I do recall that even then the portions were generous and the prices were moderate.

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