They come in distinct styles, but a lot have a single theme in common - they're named Mom, Mother, Mama, Mamma.
Here's a sampler of places devoted to the matriarch where the food is good, too.
Mamma Lombardi's, 400 Furrows Rd., Holbrook, 631-737-0774, mammalombardis.com
Big, buoyant and full of generous, southern Italian cooking, Mamma Lombardi's is the first eatery in a mini-empire for dining out, catering and retail. And there definitely is a Mamma Lombardi. The sprawling restaurant's specialties include chicken-and-sausage campagnola with peppers, onions, mushrooms and potatoes; pork chops with vinegar peppers; pork braciola; tripe Neapolitan-style; lasagna with meat sauce; penne with spicy red sauce; octopus salad; mozzarella in carrozza. Very good pizzeria next door.
Mother's Day: Two-hour seatings start at 12:45 p.m., 1:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Regular menu served.
Mama Mia's Ristorante, 3505 Veterans Hwy., Ronkonkoma, 631-648-9146, mamamiasristorante.com
Although this restaurant's name may be a common Italian expression, owners Dino and Annamarie Prestieiacomo said it's named for both their late mothers. Surroundings are warm and spacious: tasteful sponge-painted walls and pretty Mediterranean art. Specialties include a lush lasagna and spirited chicken scarpariello.
Mother's Day: Regular menu with specials; reservations accepted for noon to 9 p.m.
Mama Theresa's, 1071 Old Country Rd., Westbury, 516-334-3334, mamatheresas.com
Mama Theresa's has been serving Italian-American staples for more than 25 years. Owner Mauro Gallo says the mama of the title was the mother of the original owners. The name was kept. Whimsical illustrations of mamas preparing food or raising a glass decorate the unpretentious, easygoing place. It's popular for baked pastas, "specialty" pizzas, soups, salads, main dishes such as eggplant rollatine and chicken alla vodka. Mama Theresa's also has branches at 2429 Jericho Tpke., Garden City Park, 516-743-3111; and 2411-A Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow, 516-520-5556.
Mother's Day: Hours 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Regular menu served.
Mama's Pizza & Restaurant, 922 Montauk Hwy., Copiague, 631-842-9889, biggermamas.com
This snazzy ristorante-pizzeria was born 40 years ago as a small pizza parlor. Later, co-owners Grace and Gaetano Pinello expanded the business, which they named for Grace's mom, Antoinette Martino. The menu celebrates tomatoes, garlic and good eating. Try the crisp-crusted pizzette Margherita, the "kicked up mac 'n' cheese," the lusty chicken scarpariello.
Mother's Day: Open 11 a.m. to midnight, serving regular menu plus specials; no reservations - first come, first served.
Mama's Italian Restaurant, 1352 Montauk Hwy., Oakdale, 631-567-0909, mamas-restaurant.com
Founded in 1979, the Mama behind this Mama's is Angela Anzoloni, grandmother of Teresa Passafiume. Passafiume and her husband, John, took over the restaurant in 2000 from her uncle, the original owner. Hidden behind a casual pizzeria is a white-tableclothed, vaguely grotto-esque dining room offering an extensive menu of Italian-American classics (including some relative rarities such as spaghetti with tripe) and the belly-busting "Mama's Delight alla Napoletana," with stuffed shells, eggplant rollatini, ravioli, lasagna, ziti, manicotti, veal, sausage and peppers and chicken Parmesan. What really distinguishes Mama's is its extensive gluten-free menu which features almost as many items as the regular menu.
Mama Sbarro's, sbarro.com, 586 Veterans Hwy., Hauppauge, 631-360-4343; 30 Deer Shore Sq., Deer Park, 631-254-9700; 265 N. Broadway, Hicksville, 516-933-9800
In 1967, 11 years after they emigrated from Italy, Carmela and Genaro Sbarro opened their first mall-based pizzeria. There are now more than 1,000 Sbarro's all over the United States and in 47 countries. Eight years ago, the Melville-based company launched a much smaller-scale concept, Mama Sbarro's, which, according to Sbarro's director of Long Island operations, Rose Sidoti, "offers four distinct services - in-house dining, pizza, catering, and carryout and delivery service." The recipes are based on the ones Carmela brought from Naples and everything is made in house and from scratch. No big surprises here, but Mama Sbarro does a good job with classics such as chicken Francese. Rigatoni alla Mama is a huge portion of pasta with sausage and mushrooms topped with mozzarella. We also enjoyed a special gemelli with well-cooked shrimp and spinach.
Mamma Cucina's, 600 Portion Rd., Ronkonkoma, 631-981-9090, mammacucinas.com
Katie and Michael Impellizzeri bought this location in December 2004 and transformed what had been a simple pizzeria into what Michael described as "a middle-to-upper-class pizzeria restaurant." No Mama served as inspiration. "I'm the only one in my family that cooks," he said. On the pizzeria side, Mamma Cucina makes 50 different pies (all available as slices) and in the separate dining room, there's an extensive menu of Italian-American classics. According to the owner, the frutta di mare over linguine and penne alla vodka with prosciutto are customer favorites.
Mother's Day: Open noon to 10 p.m., serving the regular menu and five prix-fixe menus. Reservations accepted.
Mama's, theoriginalmamas.com, 1057 Main St., Holbrook, 631-981-6262; 605 Middle Country Rd., Centereach, 631-585-1498; 587 Montauk Hwy., Oakdale, 631-589-9640
The Centereach restaurant was the first link in this mini-chain owned by Jack Martino. When he bought that location in 1970, it was already called Mama's, "but we would have named it after my mother anyway," he said. Each restaurant accommodates a pizzeria and a proper, tableclothed dining room; in Centereach the dining room is entirely separate and goes by the name Café Figaro. Mama's menu is straight-ahead Italian-American. Specialties include veal Sinatra (with jumbo shrimp, spinach and provolone) and chicken Sophia (with jumbo shrimp, crabmeat and mozzarella). We also enjoyed the stracciatella (chicken-egg-drop soup with spinach) and broccoli rabe.
Mother's Day: Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving a smaller version of the regular menu geared to celebrating families. Reservations accepted.
Mother Kelly's, 490 Chestnut St., Cedarhurst, 516-295-5421, motherkellysli.com
Matriarch Dorothy Gobetz and her late husband Marvin bought a Cedarhurst pizzeria back in 1969, opting to keep its Irish-sounding name. These days, Dorothy (aka "Mother Kelly") Gobetz, sons Mark and Glenn and daughter Lisa Lanese run the big, bustling ristorante-pizzeria. Specialties include an "Italian sampler" (veal, chicken, sausage, meatball and eggplant) and, from the "light" menu, shrimp divan with steamed vegetables.
Mother's Day: Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Moms get a free glass of wine during dinner; regular menu with specials.
Mama Lino's, 595 Old Country Rd., Plainview, 516-681-0200, mamalinos.com
Owner Anthony Scala named Mama Lino's for his late grandmother. It's a modest, amicable shopping-center spot, ideal for a pizza party: very local and good for casual eat-in and takeout. The offerings include a series of "gourmet" pizzas, among them the Grandma - a thin square pie with fresh mozzarella, basil and crushed tomatoes; and Mama Lino's The Works, which is exactly that. Panini, calzones, heros, baked pastas, lots of chicken and shrimp main courses.
Mother's Day: Open noon to 9 p.m. Buy one meal and Mom's is free.
Sweet Mama's, 9 Alsace Place, Northport, 631-261-6262, sweetmamaskitchen.net
"Sweet Mama" is the fictional embodiment of down-home cooking and hospitality. "Mama's" place looks as though it could have been designed for Donna Reed - sunny yellow, blue and white decor, checkered cloths, '50s music playing in the background. Breakfast is the main meal here (great omelets and oatmeal), with lunch and dinner close seconds.
Mother's Day: Breakfast specials (such as crab cake Benedict) include a choice of Bloody Mary, mimosa, coffee or tea. After 3:30 p.m., dinner menu plus specials. Open 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m
Mamma Santina, 201 Orinoco Dr., Brightwaters, 631-665-7880
Santina is owner John Petralia's Mom. She's 88 and her namesake restaurant opened in 1988. This informal pizzeria/pasta-teria-plus is tablecloth-free and packed on weekends. The kitchen covers a familiar range of Italian-American specialties, to eat in and to take out. Some recommendations: the baked combination of stuffed shells, manicotti, ravioli and tortellini Parmigiana; chicken alla paesana, with mushrooms and potatoes; calzones; wood-fired, brick-oven pizzas.
Mother's Day: Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Regular menu available.