One of the places that has established itself as a premiere destination for Memphians and out of towners is Pete and Sam’s. Serving up favorites such as lasagna, spaghetti, Italian spinach and BBQ pizza, a dish featured on the Food Network, Pete and Sam’s Italian Restaurant has been a staple in the University District since 1948.
After being discharged from the Army Air Corps, Sam Bomarito returned home to Memphis, where he and his brother-in-law Pete Romeo formed the idea to open a family owned restaurant where people could come and have a bite to eat while relaxing and enjoying good company. Although Pete left the business after just six months, Sam’s experience growing up and working in his uncle’s eatery, as well as watching his mother prepare meals for years, to turn an idea into a success.
Though Bomarito Sr. passed away last March, his son, Bomarito Jr., has carried on the family business and values he learned from his father.
Over the years, many people have asked Bomarito and his late father, who opened Pete and Sam’s almost 65 years ago, about why the name of the restaurant still has Pete’s name in it if he left after six months.
“Pete thought that Memphis was too small of a town and once he left, my dad really didn’t have a lot of money,” Bomarito said. “The business was just getting started so there just wasn’t enough money to change the sign so he just kept the name.”
The rest as they say is history. In the restaurant’s 65 years of serving some of the finest Italian food around, many Memphians have come to love the family atmosphere and food that Pete and Sam’s has to offer.
People such as Jane Carroll have been going to the establishment for years. Carroll said that she has been going to Pete and Sam’s for nearly 40 years because of the food and environment.
“It is just a very unique place,” Carroll said. “I absolutely love the Italian food here. I came for the first time in the early 1970’s and it has been one of my favorite places ever since.”
The restaurant also offers students at the University of Memphis a place to study and gorge themselves of their famous BBQ pizza, which was featured on the Food Network for the whole country to see. Sophomore special education major Devin Quigley said she enjoys coming to chow down while studying for her classes.
“A lot of places are just very loud and noisy, but here it is so calm and relaxing,” Quigley said. “I like coming here and cracking open my textbooks while eating the BBQ pizza or the Italian spinach. Those are my favorites.”
As time presses on and Memphis changes over the years, Pete and Sam’s remains a local favorite where families can come and feel right at home. Family owned and operated since it opened, Bomarito said Pete and Sam’s continues to carry on the original recipes and ideas that the late Bomarito laid out on paper 65 years ago.
“That’s why we’re here,” Bomarito said. “My dad had an idea to open a fine Italian restaurant that the whole city could enjoy. We’re carrying on those ideas of great food and family values and hope to do so for many years to come.”