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New Ownership, Name
Mama Cimino’s Surfside Pizza
216 Avenida Vaquero
The owners of Mama Cimino’s Surfside Pizza, Sam and Pete Cimino, have established their own piece of their family’s legacy in San Clemente.
“We’re from the old school,” Sam Cimino said. “We’ve been doing this since we established in 1976, back in Rockville, Illinois, when my family came over from Sicily. My uncle Frank got married to a Rockford girl and called all his brothers and sisters and said there was work over here.”
The family slowly emigrated to the U.S., and as they all found work the relatives would cater to the factories in which they worked.
The food became popular, and they realized they could make money in the restaurant industry. Although Mama Cimino’s retains its founder’s name, there are 38 Cimino family restaurants in the U.S.
“My dad and my uncles kept it where we (advertise with) fliers,” Sam said. “We’ll go door-to-door and to the businesses, look them in the face and say ‘Please, give us a try.’”
There are other items in addition to the pizzas, including calzones, wings, Stromboli, salads and more.
The cheese from the pizza comes from Wisconsin in order to keep the recipe consistent, Sam said.
“Meeting people and seeing their faces when they like our food, it’s always nice to see happy customers,” Sam said. “The thing is about San Clemente is it feels like a Midwest town in Southern California; everyone is so nice here.”