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To be born on the island often means more than knowing its greatest hidden gems; for many natives, it also means following in their families’ footsteps by running some of the city’s best restaurants and caring for guests the way only generations of family can.

Italian-born patriarch Tony Smecca—a Sicilian raised on a coastline half a world away from the Texas island where he eventually settled with his wife and sons in 1973—sadly passed away in December 2015. But the beloved restaurateur, who first made his mark with Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant, instilled his passion for hospitality in his sons, Johnny and Joey Smecca.

Meanwhile, Tony Lavoi, a native of Palermo, Italy, is often credited with the creation of the muffaletta in New Orleans, circa 1906, but it’s his grandnephew Rosario Maceo who’s responsible for bringing the sandwich to Galveston when he founded Maceo Spice and Import Company in 1944. Maceo’s granddaughter Concetta still runs the place today, where, she says, the classic Italian sandwich continues to dominate the lunchtime menu. “We are known for our muffalettas; our muffaletta is probably the best anybody has had,” Concetta promises. “We take pride in food and flavor.”

Elsewhere, the Kriticos brothers, Tikie and Larry, may be first-generation Greek-Americans, born and raised in Galveston, but they’re second-gen restaurateurs. Whether at their original Olympia Grill on the Seawall or its second location at Pier 21, the Kriticos brothers follow in the footsteps of their father and uncle’s own Galveston restaurants, in whose kitchens they were raised.

SWAK! Moody Gardens Celebrates Love This Valentine's Weekend

Love is in bloom at Moody Gardens as they open up the Rainforest Pyramid for a wild Valentine's Dinner celebration on Saturday, Feb. 11. Read more.

Galveston.com Announces 2016 Best of the Island Winners

After weeks of nominations and tens of thousands of votes, we at Galveston.com are thrilled to present the Winners of the 2016 BEST OF GALVESTON AWARDS, "the Oscars of the Gulf Coast" according to The Houston Chronicle. Read more.

Galveston's Best Coffee Shops

The Island has a brewing cottage industry that locals rely on to get going each day, and the wealth of laid-back coffee shops that dot the city is astounding. Read more.

Gaido's Shrimp Still an Island Favorite

How do you like your shrimp? That’s a question asked on the island for years. If you’re not exactly sure, just head to legendary Gaido’s, one of Galveston’s premier and traditional seafood houses along the Seawall. Read more.

Galveston Food Trucks: Great for a Tasty Meal or Snack When Visiting the Beach or Elsewhere

n Galveston, food truck owners have brought their own recipes and preferences to the streets of Galveston – many serving dishes reflecting their heritage or simply the foods they love. Read more.

Downtown Galveston is a Seafood Lover's Paradise

Galveston loves its seafood, and the island’s historic downtown district is serving it up in royal fashion, fit for a king and queen. Read more.

Seven MUST TRY Dishes in Downtown Galveston

7 dishes to eat, 7 days of the week. Coincidence? Nope. Read more.

Seawall Treats

That sweet gulf breeze can only do so much when it’s the dog days of the Texas summer and 150 degrees in the shade. Read more.

Galveston's Best Barbecue

Galveston is home to a lot of cool eateries, including some of the best barbecue spots in the Lone Star State. Read more.

Saltgrass Steak House is East End Seawall Gem

If you're coming in from H-Town for the island experience and hit the seawall – keep Driving East to Saltgrass Steak House. Read more.

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