Once a major port of entry, Galveston’s restaurant business has long been heavily influenced by families traveling to America for a better life.
Johnny Smecca, Joey Smecca, and partner Danny Hart are proud to represent these past generations through GRG, a business composed of eight restaurants, a ghost kitchen, and a thriving catering business, among other interests.
Father to Johnny & Joey, “Nonno” Tony Smecca, raised in Gela, Sicily, settled in Galveston in 1973 with his wife, Nilde. The pair made their mark on the Galveston restaurant scene with Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant. The pasta dishes have an authentic Old-World-inspired flavor, and their hand-tossed pizzas have been voted the Island’s Best on multiple occasions. Still, their classic spaghetti dishes were the first item to gain them widespread notice. Mario’s is still located on Seawall Boulevard at 7th Street, with beautiful views of the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. Mario’s Seawall is celebrating 49 years in business this year.
While Tony Smecca passed away on Dec 2nd, 2015, his memory and spirit still act as an intense guiding light to his sons Johnny and Joey, his wife Nilde, their partner Danny Hart, Nonno’s grandchildren, and the incredible team they created through their many years of hard work and dedication to the people and community of Galveston.
People ask us, does it really take 36 hours to make a Mario’s Pizza? Yes, but the truth is, it has actually taken us much longer. To make a Mario’s Seawall Italian pizza, it has taken us several generations. To truly understand, you have to go back to Italy, and the first pizza Italiana and the concept of the pizza uomo, or pizza man.