The uncompromising Mama Julianne’s Pizzeria is now open in North Royalton with authentic Italian faves

Mama Julianne
Julianne Russo Kelty—pictured with sons Robert (left) and David (right)—of Mama Julianne’s, is always coming up with new varieties of her signature style of pizza. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

For Italians, food is love.

For Julianne Russo Kelty, food also signifies family memories, growing up cooking alongside her Sicilian mother and grandmother, and gathered around a huge table that hosted her eight brothers and sisters and countless friends.

“Everything we ate had to be authentic, with only the finest and freshest ingredients,” she recalls. “Even though the dishes were traditional, my mother always added her own Sicilian spin.”

That spirit of authenticity is alive and well at her newly opened second restaurant—Mama Julianne’s—in North Royalton. It joins her popular 13-year-old flagship eatery five miles down the road in Strongsville.

“We’ve earned a reputation for homemade pizzas and made-from-scratch dishes,” she says. “We don’t compromise on anything. Our cheese is hand-shredded, our ingredients are hand-chopped, and our dough is hand-tossed. The methods here are old school in every sense of the word.”

Her three sons, Robert, Vincent and David, are part of the family-run operation. David is her partner, Robert is general manager of the Strongsville location, and Vincent helps out when he can, as he has a “day job” as a pharmacist.

You Gotta Try the Sfinge

Hot stuffed banana peppers are an Italian classic. Also pictured is the house salad with chicken
Pierogi Pizza features a butter sauce, potatoes, onions, cheddar cheese and a side of sour cream

Julianne is always coming up with new varieties of her signature style of pizza, which has won numerous awards over the years. Since we are in Lent, she has just introduced the Pierogi Pizza, which is already garnering rave reviews. The mouthwatering pie features a butter sauce, potatoes, onions, cheddar cheese and a side of sour cream. (She recommends you add bacon for an extra hit of flavor.)

“Another popular specialty pizza of ours is the Veggie White Garlic,” says Julianne. “You don’t have to be a vegetarian to absolutely love it.”

Italian classics include wedding soup, chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan, stromboli, calzones, hot stuffed banana peppers and an array of pasta dishes.

Their crispy, golden chicken is one of the most popular dishes on the menu—and for good reason. Mama’s secret recipe for the scrumptious coating is zesty and light, sealing in the tender and flavorful meat.

For dessert, Julianne keeps things simple, but definitely delicioso. She grew up loving a Sicilian sweet specialty called Sfinge. Her mama always made the dessert to celebrate St. Joseph Day in March.

The precious little, lighter-than-air balls of flash-fried dough are coated in cinnamon and sugar and dipped in a creamy icing that is beyond heavenly. Once you taste one, you cannot stop eating them.

And thanks to a host of lunch combos—all priced just-right at only $5.99 and including pasta & meatballs with salad, pizza slice with salad, or sub with chips, all including a drink—they do a huge midday business.

Mama Julianne’s new location is located within the Royal Park Plaza near the corner of West 130th Street and Royalton Road

Oh-So-Charming Décor
When Julianne and her sons gutted the new location to build the restaurant from the ground up, they added charming elements that put a modern spin on Old World Italian style, including a vintage pizza sign overlooking the front counter, rustic wood-plank floors and an olive tree. On the chalkboard wall at the entrance, customers are treated to murals of food and witty quotes.

“The new restaurant has only been open a month, and we already have customers who get take-out from us several times a week,” she says. “This is my dream come true. Feeding people and seeing how much they love our food makes me happy. Our adventure just keeps getting more exciting. My family is blessed.”

Mama Julianne’s Pizzeria is located within the Royal Park Plaza, 12782 Royalton Road, near the corner of West 130th, in North Royalton (440-628-9888). The Strongsville location is at 10913 Prospect Road (440-238-2028). You can order delivery (within five miles) or takeout online. Check out menus and coupons at

Categories: Westside Food & Dining