Back by popular demand

Angelo's second incarnation doing nicely on Central

Written by Joe Stumpe

For about a decade in Wichita, there was no Angelo's Italian Restaurant in Wichita. And it was a sad, hungry time indeed for lovers of old-school Italian American food.

The pizza. The red sauce. The garlic bread. The memories of first dates, prom dates, birthdays and anniversaries.

Diehard fans of the place never gave up hope it would return. More than that, when a newfangled concept called crowdfunding came up, those fans convinced the Fasciano family to use it to try to reopen Angelo's.

“No way we thought we would raise more than $500," says Gina Fasciano-Hogan, granddaughter of the founders. "We raised $42,000. Our customers basically pulled us out of retirement.”

Now the restaurant is pulling in customers on east Central. Gina's dad, Jack, sits by the door, greeting customers as they arrive and depart. A family leaving with a to-go box stops to give their review. "We took on the large deluxe pizza,” the man says with a grin. "It won."

Gina's daughter, Joey, waits on customers along with some of her classmates from Kapaun Mt. Carmel. They didn't have much training when the restaurant opened two days before Mother’s Day in 2016. Today, Jack says he'd "put them up against any waitstaff in Wichita."

The restaurant's reincarnation bears more than a little resemblance to its origin. Jack's dad, Angelo, was a Sicilian immigrant who moved his young family to Derby from Connecticut after serving with the U.S. Army in World War II. Jack's mother, Anna — the real cook in the family — was a first-generation Italian-American.

In the early 1950s, when Anna started making pizza pies in her Derby kitchen, everybody who tried a bite wanted one. Angelo sold them to co-workers at Boeing. Jack peddled them from a wagon in Derby.

In 1956, the family opened its first restaurant, at Pawnee and Laura in south Wichita. The same recipes Anna wrote down for manicotti, lasagna and the restaurant's famous Italian salad dressing are still used today — transferred from smudged-filled index cards to a computer, naturally. Black-and-white photographs of Anna and Angelo Fasciano stare down from the walls as old and new customers alike sit down to enjoy a Wichita tradition.

Gina says she and her husband, Joseph, have been overwhelmed by the response.

“What we really like are the third-generation customers, the people who bring in their children and grandchildren," Gina said. "It just goes on and on.”

Angelo's Italian Restaurant

5231 E. Central

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