Emidio Milano came to America in 1903 and Lisetta Berardinelli followed him in 1923 after having married each other in Lisetta’s hometown Casteil di Sangro, Italy. In 1944, Lisetta and Emidio Milano moved to Weslaco, Texas, from Chicago, Illinois, with their son, Lino, and their daughter Francis to enter the citrus business.
The Milano family proceeded to live the American Dream and not unlike other families in the agriculture business experienced a freeze in 1949 and again in 1951. As a result of the citrus industry downfall, the Milano’s turned to farming, which did not prove to be a very prosperous venture due to the tremendous drought the Valley experienced from 1951 to 1954.
During all this time, Lisetta and Emidio, with the help of their son, Lino, would cater functions for their friends and their families. At the demand of many small stores, they produced a line of frozen pizzas. As the popularity grew, and at the request of many local patrons of their catering business, Lisetta, Emidio, and their son, Lino, opened Mrs. Milano’s Pizza Place on November 4, 1955. It started in the porch of their home with “four tables and ten broken chairs!” The Valley residents could now enjoy a little bit of Italy in Weslaco, Texas.
On September 11, 1960, Lino Milano married Giovanna Corrente in Giovanna’s hometown, Minturno, Italy. They returned to Weslaco to begin their new life in “La Terra brusciata dal sole” or the land burned by the sun as Giovanna, now known as “Mama Milano.”
In 1968, Emidio and Lisetta Milano turned the business over to Lino and Giovanna Milano, who are responsible for the growth and impeccable reputation the restaurant has today. Over the years, every room of the Milano home was eventually transformed into part of the restaurant. Today, Lino and Giovanna, with the help of their daughters Lisa and Angela, continue to serve the Rio Grande Valley in an “Italian Way”. They are grandparents with three grandsons, Michael Anthony, Eric Daniel, and Julian Andrew from their daughter Lisa and their son-in-law, Ernest C. Ramon, Jr., and two granddaughters, Luciana and Gina Maria from their son Emil Milano and their daughter-in-law Zorais.
The product of this family’s “American Dream” is called Milano’s Ristorante Italiano today. Everyone is considered part of the family, so please make yourself at home here at Milano’s.
‘She was amazing’
Milano family recalls matriarch’s struggle, good will
Italian-born restaurateur came to America after enduring WWII-era famine