Growing up in Italy during World War II with 9 brothers and sisters, Giovanna learned to be resourceful with the little she had. She learned to use the ingredients of the land to feed her family. In 1960 she married Lino Milano, a first-generation Italian American, in her hometown of Minturno, Italy.
Soon after their marriage, in 1960, she moved to Weslaco, TX and began to pursue “The American Dream.” Being young and adventurous, she explored her new community. She learned Spanish and English and immersed herself in South Texas traditions, culture and cuisine and incorporated them into her cooking at Milano’s Italian Restaurant, the family’s restaurant, which was established by her in-laws in 1955.
One of her most famous dishes was her Italian sausage. People traveled from all over the Rio Grande Valley to have her salsiccia. When cooked, the sausage is juicy and flavorful with a savory bite. Giovanna’s grandchildren remember that – at family weddings, birthdays, and holidays – they always had their grandmother’s sausage that she would prepare.
Giovanna’s son, Emil Milano, grew up watching his mother make the sausage. After her passing in 2017, his dream was to package the sausage and continue his mother’s legacy. During the 2020 “summer of COVID” he and son-in-law, Joseph Lafferty, co-founded MIANONNA.
This pre-cooked Italian sausage comes in original and spicy flavors – contains ingredients free of fillers, fibers and gluten, no artificial flavors, artificial colors, no added nitrates/nitrites, msg, or sugars are added. The sausage is USDA and GoTexan certified and made with love.
In 2021, MIANONNA was recognized as a H-E-B Quest for Texas Best finalist – placing Top 20 of over 1,200 products submitted. Two years later, the sausage made its debut on H-E-B shelves across Texas in February 2023. It is also served at some of the best award-winning restaurants in Texas.
MIANONNA means “My Grandmother,” and that describes the products’ rich history simply and meaningfully. Not only are the recipes created by Nonna Giovanna, but the legacy, family and business can all be traced back to her love for only the best food. The Rio Grande Valley has enjoyed Giovanna’s sausage for more than 60 years, and now the sausage, her legacy, and the MIANONNA story are being shared with the rest of Texas.