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
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.