The Story of MIANONNA

Marriage unites two families with Italian cooking traditions

In authentic Italian cuisine, community is perhaps the key ingredient.

The best Italian recipes are often made with love, passed down by family, and steeped in old-world tradition.

No one understands this more than Joseph Lafferty. Grandson of Dallas legend Pietro “Pete” Eustachio, Joseph made many childhood memories in the kitchen of Lower Greenville’s heritage establishment Pietro’s Italian Restaurant.  

“We’d do everything from helping out with the red sauce to chopping the tomatoes for the side salads,” Joseph said. “From the back of the house to the front of the house, my grandfather made sure we were well accustomed to restaurant life.”

Unlike the East Coast or cities like Chicago, Texas isn’t exactly known for fostering familial Italian cuisine.

However, Joseph’s story seems to be the exception. After completing college at SMU and finding success in the commercial real estate world, Joseph met his wife, Gina Milano, the granddaughter of Giovanna Milano.

Giovanna was an Italian immigrant who moved to Weslaco, Texas, to pursue the American Dream.

Much like Joseph, she spent her childhood learning to cook traditional family recipes and eventually came up with one of her own for Italian sausage. This distinct salsiccia, which she served in her family’s restaurant, Milano’s, would gain a local reputation for its incredible quality and unrivaled flavor.

Giovanna’s son, Emil Milano, grew up watching his mother make the sausage. After Giovanna passed in 2017, he dreamed of packaging the sausage and continuing his mother’s legacy. With his new son-in-law, Joseph, Emil found the perfect partner.

“I was looking for new career opportunities where I could apply my entrepreneurial interests,” Joseph said. “Then, one day, my father-in-law gives me a call and asks what I think about going into business. I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

In the COVID-foiled summer of 2020, MIANONNA was born.

“The name MIANONNA means my grandmother,” Joseph said. “I started out driving up and down I-35 selling the sausages out of my Suburban, and the business really took off from there.”

In 2021, MIANONNA placed Top 20 of more than 1,200 products in H-E-B’s Quest for Texas’ Best. The sausage has now appeared in supermarkets, Central Market, and the menu of local restaurants such as Al Biernat’s, Chelsea Corner, and District.

“We’ve been very grateful for the support we’ve been given,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot of competition, but we believe focusing on customer support and the quality of our product has truly set us apart.”

Joseph’s grandfather, Pietro, died a few months ago at 84.

“Being able to be back in this business and having the opportunity to work with family has been a great joy to me during this time,” Joseph said. “I know my grandfather was proud of us for pursuing a tradition like this, and I think he’d be proud of what we’ve built today.”

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