When you first drive into the parking lot at Mama Louisa’s Italian Restaurant, it seems like your typical Italian restaurant; however, walk in and taste not only some of the best Italian food in Tucson, but the real flavor behind the meaning of a family-owned restaurant.
Suzanne Elefante will be the first to tell you that Mama Louisa’s stands for family. She and her husband Joseph, who died in 1998, took over Mama Louisa’s in 1973 when they moved from Florida to Tucson.
Her husband was a printer and decided to go from printing to pasta. Having no real cooking experience, he learned and mastered the fine art of Italian cooking. Suzanne worked at first as a server so she could be with her husband. As their family grew so did the help. Her three children as toddlers learned to roll meatballs and over time continued to learn the culinary arts associated with being the children of restaurant owners.
Suzanne now runs Mama Louisa’s and states, “This is a life, not a job.” She says, “We are proud of what we do because it’s important to have good food.” Being a patron of Mama Louisa’s since I was a wee child, I fully agree that the food is served with pride. The day I was there to do this interview, her sister Theresa Mowery, the head chef who keeps the traditional recipes tasting so good, could be seen keeping the kitchen running like a fine-tuned machine and though she looked busy and hectic, she has a sparkle about her. You know that this food is prepared with love and pride.
Mama Louisa’s, located just north of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, serves Italian cuisine like no other place I have eaten at in the 50-plus years I have lived in Tucson.
Their sauce is tangy and goes quite well over a variety of their homemade pastas they make daily. They make sauce daily as well; however, they allow it to simmer to perfection for a day so you get all the wonderful flavors of an aged sauce.
With yummy dishes such as Joe’s Special, which is homemade linguini topped with cheese, hot-pepper seeds, fresh chopped garlic, and a very special sauce that makes your mouth water, how can you go wrong? While I was there, I had their famous meatballs that are not only gigantic they are moist and filled with flavor. I personally like their eggplant or pork parmesan with fresh linguini; however, no doubt, whatever you decide to eat you are bound to be happy.
Because Mama Louisa’s has been in the same location for over 56 years, they have become an icon in Tucson. Suzanne says she has watched young families walk in with their children, watched their children get married, and have their own families. She says she loves to see the generations walk through their cozy restaurant located at 2041 S. Craycroft Rd.
Whether you are young or old, a native Tucsonan, visitor, or new to Tucson, Mama Louisa’s is one Italian restaurant you do not want to overlook. As I was eating my spaghetti and meatballs, writing this article I thought Mama Louisa’s stands for family, flavors, and fun. Then I thought I should have asked Suzanne how to get spaghetti sauce out of my light-blue shirt.
So go pay them a visit, tell them I sent you, and ask for their power card. Earn points and earn a free gift card. Take your family, friends, and out of town guests to this family-run Italian Restaurant and bite into a little taste of Italy and a lot of love.