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Friday , April 18, 2014 - 3:09 PM

Amy Nicholson, Standard-Examiner correspondent

Good Italian food is a legacy in the Morrelli family.

"My husband's family lived outside of Rome," said Lucy Anne Morrelli, who owns Morrelli's Italian Ristorante, in Layton, with husband Michael. "We've had these recipes for all these years."

The Morrellis have run their own businesses for nearly 55 years. In 1991, they opened their first restaurant, Ligori's, in Ogden. In 1999, they added a second location in Layton.

Earlier this year, the Morrelli's decided to divide their partnership with Ted Ligori, owner of Ligori's in Ogden, and changed the name of their Layton restaurant to Morrelli's.

Michael Morrelli remembers what a great cook his father was, making entire meals from scratch. One of his favorites was homemade spaghetti and meatballs. The Morrellis use that family recipe for their sauces, and to top pizza dough. They purchase freshly baked French bread from Ogden's Topper Bakery.

The selection of pastas includes meat or cheese ravioli ($10.79), topped with marinara sauce and meatballs; fettuccine Alfredo ($11.39), with their signature white sauce; lasagna ($11.09), with layers of pasta, beef, cheese and marinara; and, spaghetti ($8.59), topped with traditional marinara and meatballs.

Pizzas (beginning at $5.79/8-inch) can be topped with ham, mushrooms, Italian sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, green olives, black olives, onions or ground beef. Morrelli's combo ($5.99) comes with pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, mushrooms, green olives and green peppers. The Morrellis serve barbecued chicken pizza ($5.99), and they added a pizza with Alfredo sauce, chicken and spinach ($6.19) at a customer's request.

"That is so important to listen to the customer," Lucy Anne Morrelli said.

She aims to please diners by providing a variety of homemade soups ($1.49/cup) that rotate each day and include cream of broccoli, cream of asparagus and garden vegetable.

"Some ladies like soup and salad every day," she said. "I want to make sure I have a variety so they don't eat the same thing. I also like to serve fresh-tasting salads." The soup and salad combo is ($7.89) with a drink and breadstick.

A few years ago, the Morrellis added gluten-free pastas and gluten-free pizza ($10.49/10-inch) to the menu. They asked their son-in-law, who is on a gluten-free diet, to select the pizza crust that tasted the most like their original recipe.

Michael and Lucy Anne Morrelli like greeting their customers and leave the cooking to their kitchen staffers, who have been with them for more than a decade.

"We have trained them and they are good workers," Lucy Anne Morrelli said. They especially enjoy seeing a second generation of regulars enjoying their food.

Morrelli's Italian Ristorante

  • ADDRESS: 2798 N. Hillfield Rd., Layton
  • PHONE: 801-776-8400
  • HOURS: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday
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