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It Takes More Than Taste to Create Tradition

Author: C. L. Harmon
Category: Food
Date Published: October 28, 2019
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It Takes More Than Taste to Create Tradition

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Mondo’s Ristorante Turns 50 This Month

Almost every tra­di­tion begins with three ingre­di­ents; fam­i­ly, friends, and food. Tra­di­tions cre­at­ed with those ingre­di­ents bring about a per­fect com­bi­na­tion entic­ing those involved to keep that tra­di­tion cook­ing right along. Tul­sa has many of these tra­di­tions includ­ing one that has been going strong for 50 years this Octo­ber. This fam­i­ly busi­ness is one of those recipes in life that was des­tined to become a tra­di­tion. From the Age of Aquar­ius through the age of nan­otech­nol­o­gy, Mondo’s Ital­ian Ris­torante has been serv­ing up a fam­i­ly tra­di­tion to those who have made it a Tul­sa tra­di­tion worth tast­ing.

It began with a desire to share fam­i­ly recipes that had come over from Italy and has since grown into a local icon of sorts. Through the desire of one man to fol­low a dream and make the sac­ri­fices to see that dream mate­ri­al­ize, a real tra­di­tion has man­i­fest­ed in Tul­sa. What is so inter­est­ing about Mondo’s suc­cess is that it wasn’t this cor­po­rate out­line of bot­tom lines and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. But instead, a sim­ple belief in the old way of doing things; a choice to be real and true to the prin­ci­ples of hard work, per­son­al inter­ac­tion, and qual­i­ty.

The patri­arch of this dream is Lou Aloisio. He is a first-gen­er­a­tion Ital­ian Amer­i­can who carved out a life that rep­re­sents his idea of the Amer­i­can dream. He worked for City Ser­vice Oil as a sales man­ag­er while rais­ing his fam­i­ly, but always had dreams of open­ing an Ital­ian restau­rant. Lou’s father Ange­lo, was a chef in Italy who came to Amer­i­ca through Ellis Island, past the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty in 1920 from Abruzzi, Italy. Car­ry­ing with him were the old fam­i­ly recipes that would some­day be the foun­da­tion for authen­tic Ital­ian cui­sine in Tul­sa. He held onto those recipes and would even­tu­al­ly teach his Lou how to pre­pare them.

Lou, how­ev­er, did not quit his day job at City Ser­vice Oil to pur­sue this dream but would work all day, come home for a quick nap and then head to the restau­rant and begin cook­ing. His wife would wait­ress and his sons began work­ing in the estab­lish­ment as chil­dren bussing tables. Lou con­tin­ued work­ing both jobs until his retire­ment from City Ser­vices in 1984. Son and co-own­er Rob Aloisio, said that his father used his mid­dle name so if the restau­rant was a flop his last name wouldn’t be asso­ci­at­ed with it.

As the busi­ness grew so did the fam­i­ly. There are eight Aloisios cur­rent­ly work­ing at the restau­rant which encom­pass­es three gen­er­a­tions with the 86-year-old Lou or Papa Lou as most patrons know him, still at the helm as the father fig­ure of the busi­ness. Rob and his two broth­ers Chris­to and Mike run the dai­ly oper­a­tions while Lou plays host. There are four of the grand­chil­dren work­ing there now, Rob said. He hopes that one of them will con­tin­ue the tra­di­tion for anoth­er 50 years.

We are tru­ly fam­i­ly-owned and oper­at­ed,” Rob Aloisio said. “Our mot­to is, if the doors are open, there is always an Aloisio in the house.”.

As for the cui­sine, the recipes are strict­ly fol­lowed. There is no devi­a­tion from those orig­i­nals which came through Ellis Island almost 100 years ago. New dish­es have been intro­duced through the years, but the sauces have remained the same for all of the sta­ple dish­es that have been served since 1969.

Although it was the taste of their food which ini­tial­ly brought peo­ple to Mondo’s, there is anoth­er ele­ment that has become a tra­di­tion. Rob explained that their longevi­ty has cre­at­ed an atmos­phere of fam­i­ly and famil­iar­i­ty that grows stronger with each new gen­er­a­tion. Patrons who came as chil­dren with their par­ents have grown up to bring their fam­i­lies. And with Papa Lou’s love of inter­act­ing with patrons, these long-time cus­tomers have become fam­i­ly. They are greet­ed like old friends at a reunion. Rob said they have peo­ple who come in twice a week and so many oth­er reg­u­lars that it is like Cheers, where every­one knows their name. The same is true for the staff, Rob added. They have very lit­tle turnover because every­one is treat­ed like fam­i­ly.

In a time when the world moves so quick­ly and so much is tossed aside for the lat­est and great­est, there is a lot to be said for Mondo’s. It’s a reminder that old is still good and that fam­i­ly and friend­ship are tru­ly the great­est ele­ments in life and tra­di­tion. Mondo’s is a tes­ta­ment to not only the real­i­ty of achiev­ing the Amer­i­can dream, but of becom­ing an exam­ple of how the pas­sage of time may change our world, but not what is most impor­tant.

C. L. Har­mon

Lead Author

C.L. Har­mon a jour­nal­ist and author.

He Has worked for sev­er­al news­pa­pers as a reporter and was the man­ag­ing edi­tor for a dai­ly before start­ing his own paper, The Man­n­ford Reporter in Man­n­ford, Okla­homa. 

The Man­n­ford Reporter came with many life lessons and expe­ri­ences that I may share one day. For now my focus and my love is Unique­la­homa!

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C.L. Harmon is a journalist and author of "In The Midst Of Reality". He has worked for several newspapers as a reporter and was the managing editor for a daily before publishing his own paper, The Mannford Reporter in Mannford, OKlahoma. In addition, he has worked as a freelance writer for various magazines writing feature stories on people and events.
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