An ode to Avanti's pizza bread
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An ode to Avanti's pizza bread

Having grown up in Peoria, Il, a staple in my diet, as well as every single person in and around the Heart of Illinois, was the Italian fare from Avanti’s Ristorante. It’s truly iconic in Peoria and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t make it a point of stopping by when they return to the homeland. I include myself in this grouping and it’s fair to say that my mouth was literally watering as we drove to the familiar restaurant sandwiched between Columbia Rug Carpet One and Northwoods Mall.

Home of the famous gondola, a homemade sweet Italian bread with ham, salami, American cheese and lettuce, Avanti’s is really known for their bread. While the gondola wasn’t my particular favorite, the pizza bread was another story.  It was that warm, slightly sweet, toasted bread with an ultra thin layer of homemade sauce with a thin layer of Mozzarella cheese. Broiled until the cheese is hot and only partially melted.  With a large Diet Coke. The best $1.87 I’ve ever spent. And I paid that $1.87 A LOT when I was growing up for this meal. A lot of “life” happened at Avanti’s: first and last dates,  football game wins, drivers licenses, birthdays, family meals and lots of giggles with girlfriends about boys, make up, hair and eventually college, life goals and life’s challenges.

In Peoria for exactly 24 hours, I managed to indulge in my childhood favorite twice.  As we pulled onto the Interstate, I unwrapped my pizza bread, popped the straw in the cup and leaned back to enjoy an episode of Blues Clues with my son. (the hubs was driving) I know he’ll never have the food memories that I have that are associated with Avanti’s and pizza bread, but I do know he’ll create his own with our help and the help of his family and friends. I hope that whatever they are, they bring him joy and happiness and a sense of home wherever he happens to be in life.


1 Comment
  • Nancy
    Posted at 14:40h, 24 March

    I was also born and raised in Peoria. When my now husband of 40 years and I were dating we had the gondolas often. We have been living in KC, KS for 35 years and we crave these often!! I have been wants this recipe for years! I would like to know what brand of ham and salami do they use? God bless!