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Our Story

Pasta Runs in Our Family

Mamma Mia Bistro brings you back to the Old Country with classic recipes! Our comfortable environment is inviting and charming. The dining experience we hope to provide is one that our customers can be proud to bring their family, clients, or co-workers to. Fine Italian Dining in Apex, NC has never been better!
Our chef is in the world of Italian cuisine. With over 45 years of cooking experience and our staff are ready to bring you the best in Italian Fine Dining!  We are confident that you will not have a better dining experience in the Triangle. So whether you want to join us for dinner during the week for a
special occasion, or for our monthly wine dinners, we would love to give you and your party a memorable night out!
Mamma Mia Bistro also offers catering services in Apex and the surrounding areas! With delivery and set up services, you can now bring the best of Italian cuisine to your work place, or party. Our goal to make your event a success!
Recently, Lea has joined the Family business at Mamma Mia. Lea was born in Naples, Italy, she has also lived a good part of her childhood right here in North Carolina! Lea branched out on her own in Italy to build her career and family before returning to the United States. Where she and her husband Valerio will raise their two children, Matteo and Chiara and join the family business.
She always sought to strike a balance between work and family. Mamma Mia will be her first venture as a co-owner and looks forward to the challenge. She believes in innovation, tradition and hard work. Along with following her father’s ability to take care of people, that’s really set us apart!
Lea, while respecting the values and the quality , plans to continue introducing fresh ideas to the restaurant. Perhaps bringing you back to the Old Country with classic recipes but with a modern twist!

Our comfortable environment is inviting and charming. Cultivating the dining experience we hope to continue one that our customers can be proud of it and bring their family, friends and clients to.
Making Mamma Mia Italian Bistro an exceptional Italian dining experience in Apex!

Owner & Executive Chef

Ciro Formisano


"Mamma Mia!"

The Formisano Story...

Chef Ciro was born in Naples, Italy in 1959 and so, the story begins....
While la signora Leonilde was cooking in the first restaurant that the family owned, called al Fungo Velenoso (the poisoned mushroom), her water broke, and after a fast ride to the local hospital, she gave birth to Ciro. The business was very busy, so she had to return to cooking just after three days.

Growing literally in the restaurant with his parents he gained a lot of knowledge, at the age of eleven, Ciro’s mom passed away in a bad car accident. This just happened after they opened one of the most famous restaurants in Naples, called Il Transatlantico, where Ciro advanced his culinary skills, becoming a Head Chef at the age of 18.

After many years and the opening of more restaurants Michele (Ciro’s father) retired, and the family sold all 4 restaurants.


Ciro came to America in 1992, starting to work for Italian relatives, Bella Napoli in Durham, then a friend of his told him a Chef that owned Sorrento in N.J. was looking for a talented chef with a good background in Italian cooking. Ciro was hired wanting to work in upscale restaurants to cultivate his culinary skills. He met Chef Carlos Orrico, who sponsored him to get the green card. Then his journeys took him to Greenville NC from 1995-1997 at the Italian garden, then Café Roma North Raleigh 1997- 2000 and the Italian Chophouse 2000- 2002.


Il Sogno he partnered with Silvana De Grezia, til 2004. Then Ciro bought Schiano’s Pasta and Pizza from his dear friend John Pittari and named it Mamma Mia.

In 2019 he sold a portion to his daughter to carry on the family tradition at the existing restaurant in Apex(her name is Leonilde), giving him the time to pursue his latest adventure and dream at Mamma Mia’s Italian Bistro in Holly Springs, NC.

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