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A promotional magazine ad from the late 1950s. (Image: Indiana State Library)

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and for many romance is, literally, on the menu. Few things set the mood more than a candle-lit dinner at an Italian restaurant, and Indianapolis is blessed with a fine selection of locally-based purveyors of pasta. One special institution, lasting over 40 years, was known just as much for its colorful owner as it was for its food.

Macri’s Italian Village opened in 1951 at 2343 North Meridian Street in a former residence. This was prime real estate where much of post-war social life centered around in Indianapolis. The Italian Village would be surrounded by numerous swanky night clubs and other high-end dining options. The restaurant was for a spectacular antipasti buffet, and a favorite dish among raving regulars was deep-fried carrots, something not often seen on modern menus.

The interior of the restaurant appears a bit gaudy in this promotional post card but online comments insist that the lighting was much more dim when visiting the restaurant (courtesy Evan Finch)

The interior of the restaurant appears a bit gaudy in this promotional post card, but online comments insist that the lighting was much more dim when visiting the restaurant. (Image: Evan Finch)

A key to any restaurant’s success is consistency in not only food but in management, as well.  Italian Village was owned throughout nearly its entire run by World War II Veteran Silvo “John” Macri. Surprisingly enough, the restaurant business would not be Mr. Macri’s sole passion, as he was a nationally known numerologist. Numerology is the belief that numbers, such as the year one was born, can have a divine, or deterministic, relationship to life events. Numerologists serve as sort of a mathematical fortune teller. Mr. Macri gave hundreds of lectures across the country and served as personal consultant to celebrities such as Liberace, the amazing Kreskin, and Rita Moreno.

A postcard showing the final eventual final location at the Carmel Motel on U.S. 31 (courtesy ebay)

A postcard showing the final eventual final location at the Carmel Motel on U.S. 31. (Image: eBay)

The restaurant was always successful despite going through several locations. When the decline of the North  Meridian became too much to bear, The Italian Village moved to the shopping center at Keystone and 52nd Streets. Its final location through the mid-nineties was the much maligned Carmel Motel, which stood at U.S. Highway 31 and Old Meridian Street, well north of Indianapolis. Mr. Macri passed away in March of 1996, after retiring two years prior. Shortly thereafter the restaurant would close, as the motel gained more attention from Carmel leaders, and the local media for being a magnet for clientele not typically associated with the posh suburb.

What are some of your favorite spots for celebrating Valentines day?

Printed sources:

Indianapolis Star, March 30 1996

Polk’s Indianapolis City Directory, 1978

Indianapolis Monthly, August 1997

 

9 responses to “At Your Leisure: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”

  1. Jeffrey Congdon says:

    Looks like 2343 North Meridian is now the parking lot for TCU

  2. Wanda Jacobs says:

    Love the article posted – remember well John Macri’s classes on Numerology – in fact I still have his booklet. The restaurant always had great food, and living close by it was often we would go over for pasta.
    RIP John.

  3. Scott Goodwine says:

    My great-grandparents lived in that property in the 1920’s. I only wish I had pictures.

  4. Basil Berchekas Jr says:

    I remember when the North Meridian “strip” was THE place to go and be seen…although I was too young to “participate” in most of the activities there at that time. Also remember when the area around Keystone was famous too, although it was declining once I became “of age”. That post card of the Carmel Motel looks like it would be an OK place to stay, “in its day”, though.

  5. D MIKELS SHEA says:

    What a great piece! From one who goes back to every incarnation of IV — it was our hangout on Meridian, and not only did we dine there often — John always “ran our numbers,” most memorably on Kelly Shea’s 9th or l0th birthday, when he did an amazing “reading.” It was also the home away from home for 500’s Sid Collins, TV’s Jim Gerard, food guru Ray Trotta, newspaper columnist RK Shull and wife Avriel,…all of whom followed John’s many venues and his ups and downs. When his last place failed John (who could do and did all carpentry décor rehab) worked for us at our home redoing amazing transformations. He was then ill and diabetic, accidentally cut his hand and had no health insurance…tough times, and he never faltered.

    I have a phone no for Preston Means, who in teens started cooking for IV and apprenticed to him learning carpentry—-and hope someone can let Munch (Gina) know.

  6. Mick Williams says:

    Where are the other comments? The Italian Village on N. Meridian St. was one of those classic, independently-owned restaurants of days gone by. I took more than one prom date there, in the early 1960s. Like others in those days, the owner posted a barrage of signed photographs of politicians, entertainers, and celebrities who had visited previously during visits to Indianapolis. Always interesting!

  7. Fred standeford says:

    I took my date Linda Hannaberry there for the 1968 Chatard junior prom and who should walk in to eat but Robert Kennedy who was in town for the primary. Something you don’t forget.

  8. Mike c says:

    The post card of the faux brick interior to my knowledge was the 52nd st and keystone ave location it had several little rooms and that huge buffet table. It was so good. Also the fresh baked bread with the garlic butter in the little metal pitchers and a paint brush! The carmel motel was at the intersection of north rangeline road and U S 31, not old meridian. I lived across the street from it next to the Lotus Gardens in Cool Creek Apartments.

  9. Chris Holewinski says:

    Anybody know if the Indianapolis Macri’s had any connection to the Macri’s restaurant/bakery/family in South Bend?

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