News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 9, 2012

Restaurant’s family tradition continues

Italian eatery will become family-owned Piloni’s

TERRE HAUTE — From one family to another, the tradition of Italian food on the city’s north side will continue.

Pedro Piloni-Merlo was busy Thursday afternoon, inside the restaurant at 1733 Lafayette Ave. that has been known for 66 years as Carosi’s Italian Restaurant. With a sign outside declaring its new name to be Peloni’s Italian Restaurant, the new owner said he’ll be open for business soon. Some minor rearrangements are taking place inside the kitchen to accommodate his cooking style, but otherwise the restaurant’s interior is expected to remain the same.

“It’s beautiful in here,” he said inside the dining room.

A chef of more than 20 years, Piloni-Merlo explained he immigrated to America from the Mexican town of Chipilo located in the state of Puebla. Like many others there, his great-grandparents immigrated to that area of Mexico from northern Italy in 1882.

Growing up, he spoke both Italian and Spanish, and since coming to America 20 years ago, he’s learned English.

In addition to his wife and three children, his parents and siblings also have since moved to Terre Haute. His oldest son, Pedro, plays football at Terre Haute South Vigo High School and helped convince him to purchase the restaurant after they considered a move to Texas.

Having worked in local restaurants for years, he said his family wanted to stay in Terre Haute, and he jumped at the chance to work out a deal with Mark Roman, owner of Carosi’s.

“I’ve been looking for this opportunity a long time, to own my own restaurant, to be my own boss,” the 40-year-old said.

The restaurant was originally founded near 12 Points by Ortenzio Carosi in 1946. Since then, the business has been located in locations up and down Lafayette Avenue, most recently at 1733. Roman purchased the restaurant and the Carosi’s name in 1997 from Ortenzio Carosi’s grandson, Steve Sanders, and his wife, Margaret.

The Roman family operated the restaurant for 15 years, closing with the sale to Piloni-Merlo last Friday.

The tradition of a family-operated restaurant continues though, and the new owner said his son aspires to be a chef and will work in the kitchen with him. His wife and other members of the family will also participate, he said.

“It’s a family restaurant,” he said, crediting Roman with helping from start to finish of the deal.

Piloni’s will feature fresh pasta made in the kitchen, he said, noting his seafood entrees are particularly good as well.

An opening date has yet to be determined as Piloni-Merlo finishes some last-minute arrangements, but it will be soon, he said.

“I want to be a little different than everybody else,” he smiled.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

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