Gary Gulak stands in Mamma Flora’s Trattoria on Sept. 30, 2010, next to a variety of dishes offered at the restaurant. (Photo by Stacey Pastorella.)

Gary Gulak knows that the current economic situation can impact the restaurant industry. Thankfully, he also has a solution.

Gulak, the owner of Mamma Flora’s Trattoria, said the restaurant has remained successful through these challenging times due to a strong base of satisfied customers.

A refusal to compromise the freshness and quality of the food sets Mamma Flora’s apart, Gulak said.

“There are two chefs on staff whose strengths are fresh seafood, pastas and sauces,” Gulak said. “They’re all cooked to order. Nothing’s prepared ahead of time.”

Gulak said the restaurant starts with fresh ingredients, such as meat, fish and chicken. A lot of the meat arrives in larger pieces and is hand-trimmed at the restaurant, he said.

The restaurant’s chefs also make the sauces from scratch, Gulak said.

The extensive menu features a wide selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and dishes prepared with chicken, veal, seafood and steak. Mamma Flora’s also features pizza, which is baked in a word-burning brick oven, and offered with a variety of toppings.

Gulak said that the restaurant’s specials, which rotate, are very popular selections.

Mamma Flora’s is also known for its breads, which are baked in the brick oven, Gulak said,

The brick oven and counter are components that help create a traditional Italian atmosphere in the restaurant, Gulak said.

The dining area is decorated in earthy tones, which Gulak said is also inspired by Italy.

Mamma Flora’s banquet room accommodates 40 people, and can be used to host events such as business meetings, bridal and baby showers, political gatherings, birthday parties and fundraising functions.

The restaurant features live music on Saturday nights in the months of September through May from 6 to 10 p.m. Every 4-6 weeks, a jazz sextet performs, Gulak said.

A schedule of artists scheduled to appear is available on Mamma Flora’s website.

Mamma Flora’s also offers delivery, catering and online ordering.

Gulak said Mamma Flora’s has provided the option to order online for a few years. The restaurant has been open for about seven years, Gulak said.

Gulak began working in the restaurant industry during high school. At first, he made deliveries, but he soon began cooking. He studied business marketing at a community college in Philadelphia, before assuming a restaurant management position. He eventually became owner of a restaurant, where he stayed for about 15 years before opening Mamma Flora’s.

Gulak is proud of the relationship that Mamma Flora’s has built with the local community. Gulak said the restaurant hosts fundraising events for sports teams and greek organizations from The College of New Jersey.

“We’re definitely popular at the college,” he said. “We work with them closely.”

Gulak is also working to expand the restaurant’s online community. Mamma Flora’s has recently created a profile on the social networking website, Facebook.

“We’re on Facebook now. We have some incentives,” Gulak said. “We’re doing some advertising on there too. So, if you like going to that, we might provide a couple offers, specials that you can print.”

Gulak said he enjoys working in the restaurant industry because it is fast-paced and enables him to interact with others.

“There’s nothing better than somebody enjoying their meal, and they’re thanking us, which I think is crazy, because we should be thanking them,” Gulak said.

Mamma Flora’s is BYOB and is busiest during lunch hours and weekends, Gulak said. The restaurant accepts reservations for groups of six or more. Its hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. More information about Mamma Flora’s is available via phone at (609) 434-1188 or online at