Classic Italian joint says buongiorno to milestone birthday
Many locals may shirk at turning 40. Those Party City "lordy, lordy look who's 40" banners are a special kind of crass. Still, one San Antonio restaurant family is embracing the milestone birthday with open arms.
One of Alamo City's true dining institutions, Little Italy Restaurant & Pizzeria, is hitting the big 4-0 on April 15. In an ever-shifting restaurant industry, that's no easy task — especially considering the spot has spent all four decades operating from the original location at 824 Afterglow Street. (Side note: We would have loved to be in on the naming conversations for that, um, evocative thoroughfare.)
The Little Italy story began in 1969 when the Visocaro family immigrated to New York City from Palermo, Sicily. There, they claimed their slice of the American Dream by operating Paola's Pizza Restaurant until the city's hash winters drove them to seek warmer climes. In 1983, Angelo and Paola Visocaro opened Little Italy in San Antonio, introducing locals to authentic Southern Italian fare.
Over the years, the couple passed down family recipes and business know-how to the next generation, including their son Dominick Visocaro, who currently operates the eatery with Paola. The restaurant still serves many of the dishes Angelo developed and maintains many of his traditions.
To this day, the restaurant offers a complimentary pizza appetizer as soon as diners settle in. Angelo was inspired by the free chips and salsa typical to the region's many Tex-Mex joints. So, he gave the custom an Italian spin, giving guests a taste of hospitality from the start of their meal.
The gambit worked, and now generations have enjoyed some of the eatery's most popular dishes, including chicken Parmesan, homemade lasagna, and the Italian Stallion — meatballs and sausage in a flavorful tomato sauce served over spaghetti. Many a special occasion has been celebrated over the restaurant's shellfish and veal dishes.
To mark Little Italy's 40th anniversary, the team is partying with limited-edition Fiesta medals, wine glasses, and beer pint glasses, all featuring the restaurant's logo. In addition, the restaurant will serve complimentary sheet cake to all well-wishers on April 15. The transition to middle age is always made easier with dessert.