Jim Benson | email@example.com
When Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan celebrate homecomings in the fall, alumni taste buds immediately start salivating down memory lane.
Time to get a gondola or some thin-crust pizza, that comfort food they loved – and devoured – during their college days at two special places burnt into the brain forever.
Thus, the packed parking lots at Avanti’s in Normal and Tobin’s Pizza in Bloomington when former ISU and IWU students roll into town.
The Avanti’s on Main Street near the ISU campus may have changed some inside since it was opened by Guido and Albert Zeller in 1971. What hasn’t changed is Avanti’s fresh Italian bread, which is prepared and baked in the restaurant’s kitchen and, of course, the trademark “Avanti’s famous gondola” of ham, salami, American cheese and lettuce.
You can get a half gondola, but a whole gondola is usually the way to go for hearty eaters. There are plenty of other options on the menu, but the gondola always is the first remembered.
South from Avanti’s, on Main Street near the IWU campus, sits Tobin’s Pizza, a community staple since 1963 when Jim Tobin opened the doors. It looks almost the same inside as 1963, too, which just adds to its unique charm.
The thin (but not paper thin) crust pizza has remained the same even after Moe and Karen Davis bought the business in 1998. “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Moe Davis on the 50th anniversary in 2013.
Good thinking — regardless if your college colors are red and white or green and white.