Byfield’s Richard Musto gets his North End-style pasta sauce a piece of the supermarket spotlight.
A sampling event at the Stop & Shop in Revere confirmed for Byfield resident Richard Musto that the Raso’s line of pasta sauces, launched 18 months ago, would be a hit.
“Italians, especially those who make their own sauce from scratch, are very particular,” Musto says, noting that Revere has a high concentration of North Shore Italians. “When they said they would buy the sauce, that, to me, is really the indicator of being on the right track.”
It’s no surprise, then, that Raso’s Pasta Sauce and its newly added line of pastas are a hit in the area. Musto, who hatched the product with his cousin Richard Raso, comes from a long line of great local cooks—not only was his mother, Francesca, an excellent chef, but his dad was also a wiz in the kitchen, winning awards for his original recipes. Cousin Raso built on the family’s prowess with Raso’s Italian Grille & Pizzeria in Medford, a popular eatery specializing in North End-style Italian. In fact, the jarred sauces are based on the recipes from Raso’s restaurant.
Musto says the secret to winning sauce is top-quality ingredients—and no preservatives. “If you’re using the best ingredients, you don’t need all the fillers and fluff…The tastes in the jar are the same tastes you find in the restaurant,” he says. “It is a premium-quality product.”
Matching those flavors wasn’t easy, Musto admits. “Transforming [the restaurant’s sauce] to a major production run, where you are bottling thousands of jars at a time—you really have to play with the ingredients. It’s a taste-testing process to come up with the right formula.”
In just over a year and a half, Raso’s is now producing “tens of thousands” of jars quarterly, and the sauce is available in nearly 500 grocery stores, including Stop ‘n’ Shop, Crosby’s, and Shaw’s. The buyer from Shaw’s—a frequent guest at Raso’s restaurant—first placed the products on store shelves. Right now, the company offers six sauces retailing for $6.99 a jar—marinara, tomato basil, puttanesca, vodka cream, roasted red pepper—and a fra diavolo, as well as a pizza sauce and a newly introduced line of dried pastas.
While Musto won’t reveal where the sauce is bottled, he does say it’s “hyper-local.” “It’s North End-style. Most of the sauces you see on the shelf are either from New York or are mass-produced out of a major conglomerate factory,” he says. “While there are a handful of sauces that are premium quality, very few are from the Boston area or North Shore area.”
In addition to regional distribution, the pair have also signed with a national distributor and hope to be in major metropolitan areas across the country with a full line of Italian products, including olive oil, canned tomatoes, and olives.
Musto says his mother would be very proud of the business he and his cousin are building together. “We have such a history in our family of enjoying food and getting together…generations upon generations, all centered upon eating good quality food…Food and family have created many fond and lasting memories for me.”