Hometowns. We all have them. And we all have stories about them. The spots we claimed with high school friends, to the homestyle restaurants that can be justified only if you ate there. For those who grew up in Michigan City, one place in particular has impacted them for generations: Albano’s Villa.
No matter how bittersweet it has been for those who have moved away from Michigan City, Albano's has a way of helping them keep a piece of their home town close at heart.
Michigan City native Lorna Jens and her husband Eric Jens deliver their favorite pizza all the way to their new home state of Georgia - literally!
“Every time we visit we load up on pizzas, freeze them, and send them to Georgia,” Lorna Jens said.
“There is nothing that can compare to Albano’s pizza. There is something in the sauce, the cheese, the crust - it’s the whole package,” Jens said. “We love sausage and pepperoni pizza and the cheesy garlic bread.”
Jason Hollihan left Michigan City in November 1989, then joined the Navy. But the distance couldn’t keep him from the irresistible flavor of Albano’s.
“When I order pizza I take one or two half-baked ones home,” Hollihan said. “I even have two 31-pound coolers specifically for them.”
Shelley Manner remembers Albano’s as a favorite childhood place, full of memories like enjoying takeout pizza while cruising on their boat on the waters of Lake Michigan. For Manner, Albano’s has been present every step of the way, from dining as a student at Purdue University until she graduated and moved to a new home in Baltimore.
“For the last 20 years I’ve been in Baltimore, yet still nothing can compare. I don’t know what it is. When I bring friends from Baltimore we always go there and they say the same thing,” Manner said.
One thing Manner knows for sure is Albano’s pizza has just enough of every ingredient that makes it the perfect ‘za.
“They have a sweet sauce, but not too much of it. You always get a ton of toppings. The crust is perfect - the best mix between crunchy and thin. It’s not too much. It’s just enough.”
Albano’s left a strong mark on Patricia Bush-Ross, following her all the way to Los Angeles five years ago. She made it her mission to try out as many pizza shops as she could in LA, but it became clear to Bush-Ross that nothing compared to her first pizza love.
“When I visited home the first time, I made it a secret,” Bush-Ross said. “I landed in Chicago, then started driving to my family. My mom, children, and grandmother called wondering where I was. I said I was caught in traffic, but I was actually sitting in Albano’s enjoying a sausage pizza all to myself!”
MC native Terra Norwell lives in Georgia now and still fully believes that Albano’s is the best pizza around. She visits Albano’s at least twice a year.
“I complain all the time because pizza in Georgia is horrible. Believe me, I’ve tried so many pizza restaurants and they can’t compare.”
Janet Mason is another member of the crew who can’t resist Albano’s every time they are in MC.
“I’ve been gone longer than the time I lived in MC, but still make the trip whenever I visit home from North Carolina.”
While we all know that Albano’s pizza is stellar, Andrea McMillin Chelemengos and Melissa Ingle Shutters hold other memories outside of the delicious pie.
“Albano’s was one of the first places my husband and I went when we started dating. We both grew up in California but continuously returned to MC to visit family and friends. Since then, we visit at least twice a year and never miss Albano's - even our kids know the place,” McMillin Chelemengos said.
“My dad actually worked there as a teen! We all moved to the Kalamazoo area but still have family there,” said Ingle Shutters, a Michigan City native. “We make a trip several times a year and always have dinner at Albanos.”
Since 1957, Albano’s Villa has certainly made an everlasting impact on anyone who has tasted the drool-worthy pie- MC native or not. Now it’s your time to make memories and head on over to Albano’s Villa to taste what many around the country still rave about.
For more info, menu details, and other locations visit http://albanosvilla.com/menu.html.