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For a town the size of Valpo, we sure have a lot of pizza choices. That

probably means that one, pizza is popular, and two, that it's probably

profitable. Growing up in the downtown area of Gary and later in Glen Park, I

learned about pizza at an early age. Pizza was also in its infancy then./

One of the best pizza places in Gary was Gus Romeo's Flamingo Pizza on 5th

Avenue. In the early 50's Bill Wellman brought one of the first pizzas to Valpo

and in those days he had to go to Gus's place to get all his ingredients. In

the early days of pizza, you had to have permission to sell it and you had to

get your supplies from certain suppliers. If you didn't, bad luck would follow

you for a long time, if you know what I mean.

My favorite pizza in Glen Park has Pete & Snook's. They were brothers and

Pete didn't stick around for long, but Snookie never wanted to go through the

expense of changing the sign. Glen Park was actually about as big as Valpo and

had as many residents in those days. The pizza that was around then was

Snookie's, Ricochet, Roma's, and Bronko's. Four places making all the pizza to

be consumed in Glen Park. In Valpo you have four pizza places in one block.

In downtown Gary, we had Flamingo's and Tivoli's on the west side and

Luigi's in Miller. Later Luigi's came to Glen Park, but the others were well

entrenched. I believe that Georgie's Restaurant in Merrillville is still

serving the original Tivoli recipe. I'll have to get down there and try it and

see if it's the same. The Flamingo is still available on U.S. 6 in Portage. I

still find my way there on the way home from work in Merrillville. They still

make a "righteous pie" and I enjoy the beef sandwich there also.

Whenever I want to remember the Old Roma's, I just go behind our store in

Merrillville and get a pie at Angelo's. Angelo still uses corn meal on the

bottom of his pizza to give it that unique crust texture and flavor. The Old

Mill in Merrillville kind of evolved from Roma's which were both owned by

Angelo. After selling the Old Mill and Roma's, he started Angelo's Sicilian

Cart. He's the godfather of a lot of good pizzas.

All these pies that I have talked about are good. Some that I haven't

mentioned are Aurelio's, Sanfratello's, and even Shakey's in Merrillville. But

my world's all time favorite was Pete and Snook's. I remember caddying at the

old Gary Country Club, now called Innsbrook, slaving and toiling as a skinny

little 10-year-old caddy and taking that $4 I made and spending $2.75 on a

large cheese and sausage from Pete and Snook's. Snookie was a great guy.

Sometimes when we didn't have enough money for a large, Snook would give a

large one anyway. After he got to know us kids, he would not even charge us

half the time. It was consistently the best pizza I ever ate. (Except for my

Mom's). Later in high school I started working for Snook with some of my

buddies.

Snookie taught us how to make everything from scratch. We made the sausage

and ground it. We ground 25 pound blocks of mozzarella into mountains of

shredded cheese. We made our own pizza sauce and Snook always made us leave the

room as he added his secret blend of spices to the sauce. We cooked the beef

for the beef sandwiches and made our own italian sausage. I'm sure all this

interaction plays a big part in my love for Snook's pizza, but besides those

things it was the absolute freshest, best made, and greatest tasting pizza you

could ever eat. Snook, I miss you!

Next week Valpo pizza. Until later......ciao.

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