I “know people” who make great red sauce, Sal Scognamillo (Patsy’s), Frankie Pellegrino (Rao’s), Tony Lo Bianco (private stock). I have always loved some form of liquefied tomato on anything I eat. It started with my Jewish mother pouring Heinz Ketchup over my elbow macaroni many years ago. As my taste refined I graduated to cans of Chef Boyadee which was a “little more Italian” and had an orange substance sticking to some mushy ravioli. I thought I had it all when Butoni came out with jars of Marinara. The ultimate was when the owners of two of the most famous New York City Italian Restaurants started bottling their secret famous old world sauces. But wait, it was equaled by having a meal prepared for us by the Tony Award nominated actor Tony Lo Bianco which featured his own “Red Gravy”. Hold it! Stop the presses and stoves, I have discovered something really special. A boutique sauce made by a guy named Neal McTighe called Nello’s and here is his story from a recent article in The New York Times.
Neal McTighe started Nello’s Sauce, a line of pasta sauces. “I had no background in the food business,” Mr. McTighe said. “I have a doctorate in Italian language and was focused on teaching and that sort of career path.” Instead, he ended up in book publishing at a major university and found himself daydreaming about the time he had spent in Italy as a student and, more particularly, the food he had eaten there. He developed a red sauce similar to one his Italian great-grandmother had made and started selling it. He sold $750 worth online the first month. “I had no business training, but I just jumped in,” Mr. McTighe said. “It was scary, it was exhilarating. Just wonderful.” Four years later, the thrill of doing it all himself had worn off, and he hired a small contract manufacturing company willing to do small batches. His sauces are now sold in some 350 stores. A few friends and family members have invested in Nello’s, and Whole Foods gave it a $30,000 loan a few months ago to support development of its biodynamic marinara sauce, made from heirloom tomatoes. The new sauce, Mr. McTighe said, is a good example of what a small company can do that a big company can’t. “If they’re going to do a production run or invest any energy, they need minimum runs of 500,000 to a million jars, and there’s not enough supply of the ingredients to do that,” he said. “We’re going to do a limited release, probably about 20,000 or 25,000 jars, and consumers will be excited about it because it’s something special.”
Here’s the link to a truly great sauce. http://nellositaly.com
Frankie Pellegrino, Stephen Sorokoff, Steve Tyrell