Chef Joe Mazzocco’s love for cooking is rooted within his family, a clan who enjoyed sharing dish after dish of home-cooked meals together as a way of connecting. After growing up with Mexican family on his mom’s side and Italian on his dad’s, it was only natural for Mazzocco to chase after his dream of becoming a chef. His restaurant is named after and acts as an homage to his grandmother, Mama Lolita — a women who was a provider of both love and historic cuisine.
Mazzocco signed the lease on a site in Arista Place in October and was excited to make his dream of owning his own restaurant a full-blown reality. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, his culinary adventure traveled to Colorado which included a stint in Vail and finished in the Denver area. Through all these changes, his goal remained clear as he slowly crafted his chef-driven menu. “I’ve always wanted to open up my own restaurant. It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. Over the course of the last five to 10 years, I really focused on moving towards that goal,” Mazzocco said.
His purpose for this restaurant was clear even before opening — to shift the perspective of independent dining to instead focus on shared plates and communal eating. “The inspiration behind this reflects how we grew up eating with my grandmother. We would sit around the table and sometimes the table would be so full of different salsas and side dishes that you’d have to almost put your plate on your lap,” Mazzocco remembered. “It’s really about bringing community back into dining instead of saying let’s eat and move on with our day.”
Mama Lolita’s Mexican features uplifted but interactive Mexican cuisine. Through a focus on shared plates and sides, Mazzocco gives all the opportunity to try more than one dish instead of being limited to a singular choice. “We are really doing approachable Mexican food, but everything is elevated. Every touch is elevated. We are really focusing on technique and ingredients,” he said.
The menu features a plethora of different salsas, shared plates, salads, tacos, big plates and sides to choose from. Order a few shared plates to start including a creamy Queso Fundito ($9) complete with rajas, asadero, monterey jack and flour tortillas or choose the Red Snapper Ceviche ($13) featuring seasonal fruit salsa, fresh avocado and tortilla chips. Its big plates are meant to serve more than one and come with house tortilla chips, two sides and two salsas. Dig into an order of Achiote Chicken ($35), a grilled half chicken or a Whole Fish ($45) highlighting grilled or fried red snapper. It’s not hard to mess up a taco, but Mazzocco does it the best with its plethora of choices. His Calabacitas Taco ($5), finished with cilantro slaw, queso fresco and crispy chili lime tortilla strips recently won first place in Top Taco’s vegetarian category, proving its excellence.
The food at Mama Lolita’s is not the only element worthy of praise. Its expansive tequila list spotlights libations that are all additive-free. “You won’t find any patrons or Don Julio’s on our list just because it’s popular. We are going with the kind of old school way of tequila making, as well as the organic route,” Mazzocco said. Grab a shot of your favorite with a salted rim or partner your meal with one of its carefully designed margaritas. Every choice on the menu is worth a try and will leave you needing another bite or sip.
Mazzocco’s airy atmosphere perfectly complements the freshness and comfort that is enveloped within his food. This little haven in Broomfield is the perfect site to stop in and enjoy some amazing cocktails, large and small plates and tacos galore. Chef Joe Mazzocco cooks every dish with love and purpose while mirroring the patterns of his grandmother and the generations before her. Intimate eating is on the rise and Mama Lolita’s Mexican is an essential site to visit to experience what this practice is all about.
Mama Lolita’s is located at 8181 Arista Pl, Broomfield. It is currently open Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For now, it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.