Alberti's Restaurant And Gorilla Head East

A familiar Biloxi restaurant and its recognizable landmark have moved across the bay.

Alberti's Italian Restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. But longtime customers can find their favorite food and a certain gorilla in nearby Ocean Springs.

Alberti's brought its Italian food and landmark gorilla to Highway 90 in Ocean Springs.

"I didn't know we were missed so much as when we got opened and people would just come in and hug you and kiss you and thank you. It's just wonderful," said owner, Yvonne Mallett.

"And that's Mr. and Mrs. Barq from Barq's root beer. They were just in, she was on Saturday night. There's Junie and Angie Desporte," said Debbie Cox, as she pointed to a collection of photos from past years.

Alberti's has been a coast favorite for 36 years. Katrina forced a change of address from the beach front in Biloxi.

"This is a dough sheeter that we ran the dough through to make our pizzas. This here was Mr. Moe's grill. This here was our dough machine," said Yvonne Mallett, as she talked about photos of destruction.

"I've told so many, those were wonderful memories, they were old memories, they were great memories. Now, we're making new memories," said Debbie Cox, a longtime employee and daughter of the owners.

Some key ingredients remain the same. Like Mr. Moe in the kitchen.

"That's a lima bean and cabbage. It's an old recipe. And my spaghetti sauce, I make that," said the elderly chef as he stirred the pot.

He enjoys doing business on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"Oh everything really. I've been down here 36 years and can't find a better place," said Moe Mallett.

Many longtime customers appreciate Alberti's for its signature dishes like crab manicotti and sizzling Angus steaks. But the restaurant's real signature is a six foot tall gorilla. And he's also made the trip to Ocean Springs, and is now chained to a pole near the front entrance.

"And I wasn't going to put it back up over here. And everybody said, Oh you have to, you have to. That's a landmark, you have to," said Yvonne Mallett.

Spoon in hand, the landmark is back, standing guard in front of the new Alberti's.

By the way, the gorilla doesn't have a name. He once advertised a "goofy golf" course that was located at the former restaurant site. After Katrina, the gorilla was recovered from a debris pile at a hotel next door.