Urbandale eatery closing after 62 years of bringing homemade Italian food to the metro

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An Italian restaurant in Des Moines is closing its doors after over six decades of bringing its homemade dishes to the masses.

Mama Lacona’s Italian Restaurant, located at 3825 121st Street in Urbandale, is closing permanently on August 31.

Through the years, Mama Lacona’s has served classic Italian recipes passed down from the late Teresa Lacona — formerly Teresa Tursi — who many consider the great-grandmother of Italian cuisine in Des Moines.

And the Tursi-Lacona influence continues to shape Des Moines’ Italian food scene.

“It’s been a good run, but for health reasons, I am retiring,” said co-owner Jim Lacona. “I want to thank the community for supporting us all these years. It’s sad for us to have to close.” Lacona owns the restaurant with his wife, Katie.

Lacona said the restaurant will be honoring any gift cards until August 31, but the restaurant recently closed for lunch during the week. Mama Lacona’s is still open for dinner and Sunday brunch.

A scaled-down version of the menu was posted on its website that includes items like fried ravioli, baked cavatelli and other pasta dishes, pizza, chicken marsala, steaks and seafood.

Lacona’s father, Chuck Lacona, started the restaurant in 1957, motoring around the Drake neighborhood from 3629 Beaver Avenue on a three-wheel Cushman cart while clutching a CB radio. He sold pizza like this for 15 years.

In 1989, Chuck’s son, Jim Lacona — who was 26 at the time — took the reins and sold dressings and prepackaged lasagnas in markets across Des Moines. During that year, there were three locations of Mama Lacona’s in the Des Moines metro.

Jim and Katie Lacona had intended to pass the restaurant down to their daughter, Olivia. “She’s really sad we’re closing because she wanted to take over at some point,” Jim Lacona said. “But I just can’t hang on. Sooner or later, she wants to (open a restaurant) and I told her I will be here for her and we’ll get her started. But I know she’s very disappointed.”

This big family of restaurateurs and its descendants are behind such local favorites as Noah’s Ark, Tursi’s Latin King, Gusto Pizza, Scornovacca’s and the former Bambino’s —owned by Jim’s sister, Vanessa Lacona Devine, who recently moved to Winter Haven, Florida.

Article Written by Brian Taylor Carlson of The Des Moines Register https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/entertainment/dining/2019/08/06/mama-laconas-italian-restaurant-closing-permanently-after-62-years-pasta-steaks-pizza-teresa-tursi/1932097001/

Photo Courtesy of the Des Moines Register