WSU alumni keep up tradition with Italian food

Morrelli’s, located near the Weber State University Davis campus, serves authentic Italian food to residents and WSU students.

(Photo by Spencer Boyce)
(Photo by Spencer Boyce) WSU alumni Michael and Lucy Morrelli own Morrelli’s, an Italian restaurant.

Formely known as Ligori’s, Morrelli’s is run by Michael and Lucy Morrelli. Both are alumni and contributors to WSU.

Michael was part of the first graduating class when Weber State College awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1964. WSC was previously a junior college in 1933-64.

“I graduated with a degree in history,” Michael said. “I loved history.”

As alumni, the Morrellis are active with WSU sports and events.

“I have been on the board of directors for the Wildcat Club,” Michael said. “Our names are even on the wall of the Dee Events Center.”

The Morrellis said they love attending the games at WSU and inviting family and friends to come along.

“I have 24 seats for WSU basketball, and eight seats for football,” Michael said. “Most of my family and friends sit there.”

The Morrellis also give away tickets to customers so they can experience the WSU games.

“We have been in those same seats since the completion of the Dee Events building,” Lucy said. “Mike has missed one game in all those years.”

Michael, who describes himself as a “super fan,” even received an award for it from WSU.

“They brought me down to the stage during halftime and gave me a plaque,” he said.

Michael received a master’s degree from the University of Utah in business management, which he uses in running the restaurant.

Lucy said she has 243 credits with WSU, but has never graduated. She said her studies at the university have helped her to open a successful chain of day cares.

The Morrellis have four children, all of whom attend WSU, continuing the family tradition.

Michael’s family emigrated from Italy and brought with them the Italian traditions of foodmaking. Michael said his father would make a whole dish from scratch, and this is where he picked it up.

“The family tradition in Italy is spaghetti and meatballs,” Michael said. “My dad would make spaghetti for dinner all the time. I had it coming out my ears.”

In 1991, along with a third partner, the Morrellis opened Ligori’s in Ogden and another in 1996 in Layton.

“We like to share our food with friends and family, and we’ve got plenty to share,” Michael said. “It’s authentic Italian food that you can’t hardly get anywhere nowadays.”

The Morrellis both said their favorite part of owning a restaurant is the people.

“Greeting the people, seeing the people, seeing first and second generations is the best part,” Lucy said.

Recently, the three partners split. The Ligori’s name stayed in Ogden, and Morrelli’s is the new name of the Layton location. Even with the split and name change, the Morrellis insist the food is as good as it ever was.

Kena Allan, assistant manager, said the most popular pasta is their rigatoni, and the combination pizza is the major seller. Marcella Charley, another assistant manager, added that the best seller is the garlic cheese bread.

“Our meatball sub is world-famous, very popular,” Allan said. Michael agreed, stating the meatball sub outsells the other sandwich offerings.

The Morrellis said they try to be hands-on with the everyday duties of the restaurant. Even Lucy knows how many gallons of sauce they go through per day — “30 gallons. Here, I try not to make the decisions. The staff make the decisions with me.”

Morrelli’s will also open a line of classic Italian desserts for their customers.

Morrelli’s provides gluten-free menus, $5 birthday discounts, and fundraising opportunities for local charities and groups. It also offers discounts to WSU students when they present their Wildcards.

Morrelli’s is located at 2798 N. Hillfield Rd., in Layton, Utah.