Restaurants come and go in Billings.

Owners retire, consumer tastes change, market conditions fluctuate, and anyone who has ever owned or operated a restaurant can attest that it can be a challenging business. Sometimes new owners take over, and other times beloved restaurants simply close. The End, right? Not so fast. Sometimes, heirs keep the flavors alive.

woman reads an old cook book
Ah yes, the secret family cookbook. Credit Canva


One example is Wong Villiage.

Wong's closed in 1995 (the building is now Planet Lockwood), but the owner offered loyal fans opportunities to buy the family restaurant's secret cookbook. When copies pop up, they're hot sellers. A Facebook Marketplace seller from 2022 noted they had sold over 100 copies in two weeks.

A different route for Billings' Li'l Peetza's.

I have never experienced the joy of a pizzarito from Li'l Peetza's. I didn't move to Billings until the late 90s and by the time I got here, the restaurant had been closed for at least a decade. Searching Billings Gazette archives reveals Li'L Peetza's at 1016 Grand Ave closed in the fall of 1987. Here's a photo of their menu from earlier that year.

Saucy. Credit Canva
Saucy. Credit Canva

It's all about the sauce.

A recent post on a Billings nostalgia Facebook page asked for help in making the closely-guarded sauce for the classic pizza-ish Li'l Peetza treat, "I have tried to recreate them, but not getting them spot on", the poster wrote.  Allegedly, only a handful of family members know the exact recipe, and you can feel free to guess what the ingredients are because they're not telling.

Your next chance to order Li'l Peetza is coming up this spring.

Almost 40 years after the restaurant closed, the family recipe remains alive with twice-a-year opportunities to buy Li'l Peetza's pizzaritos in Billings. The online pre-order is coming up this spring (typically in March or April) and the Fall sale is usually around October.

Family members and volunteers make and sell around 4,000 of the tasty little pizza/burrito rolls and they always sell out. Proceeds benefit a non-profit service organization in Billings. The best way to find out more is to follow the official Bring Back Li'l Peetzas Facebook group.

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