Tallarico Foods: A Legacy of Authentic Family Recipes
Tallarico’s had earned an excellent reputation for fine meats, produce and customer service. Young Jim, just back from serving in the Korean War, realized consumer buying habits were changing, and requests for a convenient steak sauce to use at home got the young entrepreneur thinking.
It was the post-war, Sputnik-era of suburbia, shopping malls and Baby Boomer births. Convenience in the kitchen was an emergent concept, and Jim asked his mom, Jenny, a noted cook and shopkeeper, to whip up a new recipe for a tasty steak sauce to jar for retail sales.
Fast forward 60 years, and Tallarico Foods now sells 15 different products in major grocery stores across eight states. Supermarket powerhouses, such as GIANT Food Stores, Redner’s Markets, ShopRite, Wegmans and Weis Markets, in addition to a host of independent grocers, keep stocking Tallarico sauces and sandwich fixings on their shelves.
Growth is steady, and new products are being tested for 2017, says Vice President Chris Tallarico, 51, the youngest child of Jim and Toni (Antoinette) Tallarico.
When beloved Jim passed in the spring of 2016, he left behind a legacy of partnerships, originality and invention.
“My dad was a true innovator and a relationship-builder,” observes Chris, who began working for the family firm in 2002 after gaining experience in the beverage industry for the first half of his career. …My father basically grew the company up from the first cheese steak sauce in the family-run grocery store. When 18 jars sold out on the first day, he knew he, my mom and grandmother, who masterminded the recipe, were onto something.”
By the mid-1970s, Jim was going full-throttle with Tallarico Foods. His brother, John, was running the family market, while James garnered a location for the jarred-food business. He was always looking for new ideas and formulating new recipes.
“It would be very difficult for a small, local firm like Tallarico to gain inroads on major store shelves today,” says Chris, noting that his father always believed his children should explore their own career path and gain experience in a larger scope than what he could have offered them alone.
Much of the success for over six decades is due to the delicious, robust, all-natural flavors and fresh-jarred ingredients. Additionally, lower sugar and less sodium remain paramount to the company’s mission. Fresh basil, imported olive oil, fennel, Romano cheese, red wine and fresh garlic are signature flavor profiles found in the majority of Tallarico sauces.
From the signature slow-cooked, Italian meat-based Sunday Pasta Sauce, to the “Coney Island Style” Chili Hot Dog Sauce, traditional flavors figure prominently. Both products, for instance, feature fresh tomato purée, fresh tomatoes and onions, plus sherry wine, among a dozen fresh seasonings and spices.
Other popular items in stores or online include Tallarico’s Sweet & Sassy Pepper Strips, Hot Hoagie Spread, Homemade Taste Pizza Sauce, Italian Style Peppers in Sauce and Sloppy Joe Sauce. Gourmet soup bases in beef or chicken flavor create an excellent base for gravies, meat loaves, soups and more.
Chris notes that sales online are also brisk, with fans ordering products from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.
The tradition of collaboration continues to fuel the business.
“My dad, for instance, would constantly come up with new ideas based on requests in the grocery store, and as a family, we would test out the recipes and products first,” recalls Chris.
Newer additions, including the Venice Style Marinara Sauce or the blush Vodka Sauce, were developed with the help of siblings Giovanina, Vincent, Joseph and Rosemarie.
On a recent Saturday morning, a dozen family members, all dressed in sharply pressed Tallarico-branded chef hats and aprons, congregated at a spacious Bucks County home to assemble 450 homemade raviolis. With the precision of a factory, participants rolled out fresh pasta, stuffed and assembled. By noon, there was a fine lunch of ravioli served with the Sunday sauce. The bulk of the pasta delicacies were frozen for the holidays.
New on the horizon is the formulation and testing of a Tallarico frozen bread stuffing product featuring a tried-and-true family recipe with plenty of fresh parsley, onions, butter, celery, herbs and flavorings. While sister Giovanina oversaw the development of the Vodka Sauce and Marinara Sauce, the family stuffing recipe is under the direction of sister Rosemarie.
“It’s how dad would have had it,” Chris says. “His life was about faith, family and food, and we are here to continue that.”
For more information and recipes from Tallarico Foods, visit tallaricofoods.com.