The Full History
It was the year 1903 when 12-year-old Emidio Milano made the courageous journey alone, to the land of promise, the United States, with the aspiration of attaining the “American Dream”. He travelled all over the US after landing in Ellis Island from Italy. He graced Chicago, Utah, Alaska (where he created the first version of what you know as an effervescent tablet, but his patent was stolen) and back to Chicago. In 1923, he returned home to Italy to take a bride, Lisetta Berardinelli, in her hometown of Castel di Sangro.
At the prospect of an easy fortune, in the “Magic Valley”, growing overnight crops, Emidio and Lisetta accepted the invitation of land barons recruiting Northerners to the south. 1944 was the year of the “American Dream” for the Milano’s in the citrus business; but the freeze of 1949 began the decline of success… and then again in 1951. Recovery never came for them and they moved onto farming, but it was a trying time to start such a venture with a drought stretching from 1951 to 1954.
Resilient as they are, the Milano’s decided they could be innovators in their time and they introduced the very first pizza to the Rio Grande Valley in 1950. Small town fame came quickly to these authentic Italian pies and, at the request of many stores; Milano’s line of frozen pizzas was born. Family and friends implored for catering and they were satisfied for many years. So loyal and enthusiastic were the fans that Milano’s opened its doors to the public as a full-fledged Italian restaurant in 1955. There was nothing more than a battered porch with 4 tables and 10 broken chairs. Emidio, Lisetta and their son Lino were determined to succeed.
September 11, 1960 brought the wedding of Lino Milano and Giovanna Corrente, in her hometown Minturno, Italy, and the beginning of a new era for Milano’s La Piccola Italia. Minturno is proudly displayed as a full wall mural in the room called “Minturno” in the restaurant today. When Giovanna arrived to Weslaco as a new bride, she called her new home “La Terra Brusciata dal Sole” which means “The land that is burned by the sun”.
Giovanna, fondly known as “Mama Milano”, along side her husband Lino are credited with the immense growth and impeccable reputation Milano’s earned in the years following 1968, when Emidio and Lisetta handed the family business down. Over the years every room in the original family home has been turned into a new part of the restaurant, but the humble beginning that was once the front porch is still the home of the “Milano Family Table” where the 3rd 4th and 5th generation Milano family members still sit and eat dinner together almost every night.
Though both Lino in 2012 and Giovanna in 2017, left us physically, they will both live on in the legacy they built and in our hearts. Emil, Lisa and Angela are the three children of Lino and Giovanna. They have all married, Zorais, Ernest and Moises, consecutively. Emil and Zorais have 3 daughters, Luciana Estefania, Gina Maria and Giovanna. Lisa and Ernest have 4 boys, Michael Anthony, Eric Daniel, Julian Andrew and Lino Alessandro. Angela and Moises have 1 son, Josiah. The modern day Milano’s is still family owned and run, for many years to come, thanks to the loyalty of the customers we have throughout the Rio Grande Valley, all throughout Texas and stretching all over the USA.