Lil’ Italy

Big things DO come in small packages! Lil’ Italy is the place to enjoy the very best in authentic Italian cooking. Located in the old ‘Catfish One’ shack, 2 blocks south of 1-10, Exit 50 on Washington Avenue. It certainly isn’t fancy, but you will not find better Italian food anywhere. 2 blocks south of I-10, exit 50 on Washington Avenue. This little place serves the most delicious express lunches, and also take out and special party menu items. “All the recipes have been in the family for generations and go back to Sicily over one hundred years,” said co-owner Tony Abbate. Together with his wife, Lori Rapella-Abbate, the two decided to leave their Chicago and Florida homes to live out their retirement years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He continued “We fell in love with the people and the area. These folks are the most decent people on earth. Here the people care about each other and we care about them. Most of our customers, have become our friends.” Both owners are Saints fans and serious about supporting local youth teams. They love gridiron football and MMA fights. One-time owners of TORHS America, a hockey tournament service company based in Chicago, the two try to stay involved with the sports world as much as their busy schedules will allow. Tony and Lori are not professionally trained chefs, but you’d never know it. Everything they prepare is first rate, the real deal. The Authentic Italian Chicken Parmesan dinner is one of Lil’ Italy’s best sellers, but you can’t go wrong with anything you choose from the extensive menu. If you need to feed the family, then Tony has you covered. Call ahead and your huge pan of homemade lasagna, ziti or Italian beef will be ready for you to pickup at your convenience. And everything comes complete with salad and bread for a low, low price. Tony and Lori have owned many other businesses in the past but found that cooking and food were their true passions. “My philosophy, said Tony, is to do what you know and do what you love.” When the crew at Lil’ Italy makes a homemade Italian beef sandwich, it is such a treat. Every slice is simmered in a special Italian sauce (much like au jus) and piled high on freshly baked bread. Sweet peppers are added and voila! One taste will tell you…this is no ordinary sandwich…this is superb Italian cuisine. The restaurant is open Monday-Thursday 11am-8pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm. (Closed on Sundays.) Lunch specials are made daily and guests often enjoy Gyros or Classic meatball sandwiches in the open air seating. Since Football season is well on its way, we suggest letting Lil’ Italy supply the food for your hungry tailgaters! To order ahead you can call 228-257-2794 or drop by the 7401 Washington Avenue Ocean Springs location and visit with Tony and Lori.  You can also view the menu and make your selections by visiting the Lil’ Italy website at


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