Producer of the Week: Lavinia’s Cookies


Delicious confections from Lavinia’s Cookies. Photo courtesy of Copper Lantern Pictures.

Do you have a certain food that conjures up a meaningful memory for you every time you eat it? For Vince Lattuca, that food is his great-grandmother’s biscotti. “When I eat the biscotti, I always think of family,” he said.

Vince is the owner of Lavinia’s Cookies in West Chester, PA. As a child, Vince remembers growing up eating biscotti. “I have never known a cookie jar without biscotti in it,” Vince said. “I thought everyone had a jar of biscotti just like mine.”

But that wasn’t the case. You see, not everyone had a grandmother named Anna who used her own mother’s recipe to make delicious biscotti to fill those cookie jars. Anna’s mother, Lavinia, emigrated from the Abruzzo region of Italy and settled with her family in South Philadelphia. Lavinia had a talent for making confections. “She had a candy store on Walnut Street before the Great Depression,” Vince said. “She was a candy maker and a baker.”

Anna would use Lavinia’s recipe to bake biscotti to share with her family. Today, Vince uses Lavinia’s same recipe to make biscotti that he shares with us at the UM Farmers Market each Saturday. “I make all the cookies,” Vince said. “My mom makes all the biscotti.”

Vince’s mother is Joyce Tilli-Lattuca, and together, she and Vince have an idea to one day open a bakery in the West Chester area. “Mom always thought the biscotti was unique and that it would sell well in a bakery,” Vince said.

Joyce’s opinion on the uniqueness of the biscotti was reinforced several years ago when she worked in San Diego as a hair stylist. For special occasions, Joyce would make biscotti using Lavinia’s recipe and bring it in to work for her colleagues. They raved about it and encouraged her to go into business selling it.

Her colleagues’ encouragement morphed into reality years later when Vince decided to leave his desk job after two years and begin Lavinia’s Cookies with Joyce’s help. “I decided I needed to do something more creative,” Vince shared. “So, I quit to start this business.” The business is now in its fourth year of operation.

In addition to selling Lavinia’s signature biscotti to buyers, Vince also sells a great variety of speciality cookies. These include sugar, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, and coconut chocolate chip. Vince has also recently introduced a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie to accommodate customers with food sensitivities and intolerances. Vince stated that more gluten-free cookie options are on their way once he is satisfied with their taste and quality.

“We like to experiment and try new varieties like the coconut chocolate chip and gluten-free options. We hope people will love these new items,” Vince said. “We also feel it’s important to make our baked goods with only all-natural, locally-sourced products.” These include fine extracts that enhance the quality of Vince’s cookies and biscotti.

Recently, Vince converted a portion of his home into a commercial kitchen space. Here he bakes all his items, including the top-selling products at the UM Farmers Market – namely, the chocolate chip cookies and toasted almond biscotti.

“Our motto is to always make it fresh and get it to our customers fast,” Vince said. “We also believe in providing the highest quality products at the best price.”

You can find Lavinia’s Cookies here at the UM Farmers Market, in addition to the East Goshen Farmers’ Market and the N3rd St Farmers’ Market in Old City. They can also be spotted in the Weavers Way Co-op in Chestnut Hill, the Newark Natural Foods store in Newark, DE, and the campus café at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It’s still our dream to one day open a local bakery,” Vince said. And when that happens, there are plenty of UMFM patrons who will line up to buy Vince’s biscotti and cookies because, to us, they taste like family, too.

PRODUCER’S SPECIAL: This Saturday, Vince will offer 1 dozen mix and match cookies or biscotti for $10.