Latuff’s is the place where the food is authentic and you always feel at home. Founded in 1971 by Mike and Barb Latuff, the traditional Italian-American restaurant has been a mainstay in Plymouth for nearly five decades. Tucked along Highway 55, the original Latuff’s was founded when Plymouth was a quiet farming community, just on the cusp of its growth and population explosion.
“Back then, we would get excited when a car would come down Highway 55,” says Mike. “It was very quiet and very different back then. There were no stoplights on Highway 55. There just wasn’t much out here in terms of restaurants or people.” Today, Latuff’s is housed across the road from the venue’s original location. Nearly 50 years later, the ritual of leisurely dining in a welcoming atmosphere lives on.
Always family owned and operated, Latuff’s cozy mom-and-pop atmosphere complements the cuisine that harkens back to the Old Country. The casual setting provides an authentic experience, with patrons getting their fix of Italian-American delicacies that would make any Italian grandmother proud.
As a formally trained chef, Mike heard about the availability of the original restaurant when he and his wife Barb were living in South St. Paul.
“At that time there weren’t a lot of restaurants around and I tried to get a job in the field, but there just wasn’t much available,” says Mike. Eventually he got a job at a high-end restaurant in St. Paul, but when he heard about a restaurant coming up for sale, he was interested in the opportunity.
“We didn’t even really know where Plymouth was,” says Mike, laughing. “We got lost trying to find it.” Commuting to this “far” northwest suburb after purchasing the restaurant meant working long days, evenings and weekends for the first nine months of owning the business.
“We were 24 years old and we had a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old,” says Mike. “We both had to work day and night, seven days a week, including being open until 2 a.m. on the weekends.”
Within a few years of opening, Barb’s brother Dan Mascaro, who went to the same cooking school that Mike did, joined the business. Mascaro has been the restaurant manager ever since. Mike and Barb’s son Dan has been with the business full-time for 14 years, and their daughter Michelle works part-time in a myriad of roles and oversees everything Barb used to do. Finally, their son Grant remodeled the restaurant’s current location in 2008–2009, expanding the interior.
“We have ... employees who have been with us for years and they’re amazing,” says Barb. “Having long-time employees makes a big difference. The consistency of our food and the atmosphere really draw people in. We’re very much a family-friendly restaurant—we only stay open until 9:30 during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends. We’re also closed on Sundays as we really want the kids to have a day off and be able to go to church. Everybody needs a day.”
“The restaurant has grown as Plymouth has grown,” says Mike. “We are now serving the third generation of those customers who started coming when we first opened. We have a lot of repeat customers who come every Friday or Saturday night—any night they want to have their pizza. We know them so well, we don’t even have to ask them what they want.”
One of the biggest draws is the emphasis on house-made ingredients and menu items, including pizza dough, salad dressings, hand-mixed pork sausage and onion rings. “Our handmade French fries are a favorite but are time-consuming to make because of the three-strep process required,” says Mike. In addition to their award-winning pizzas, Latuff’s is celebrated for specialty menu items including their homemade lasagna, veal parmesan and fried chicken.
“I recently talked to a gal who has spent a lot of time down South and she said, ‘Latuff’s fried chicken is better than any chicken that I’ve had in the South,’” says Barb.
Some customers who have retired and moved to warmer climes say Latuff’s is one of their first stops upon returning to Plymouth. “We have customers who take ... our half-baked pizzas on dry ice and fly home with them on the plane or head to their cabin,” says Barb.
The Latuff family is excited about the restaurant’s future and the community at large, says Mike. “We’ve enjoyed being part of Plymouth’s history and we often give back to the community in many ways such as sponsoring sports teams, donating to the Plymouth police and other worthy causes. I don’t think we’ve ever turned anyone down who has requested a pizza donation for a charitable cause. We feel that it’s really important to give back to the community.”