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17 November 2022

The world’s best tomato sauce

Boston Business Journal

Whether you grew up calling it tomato “sauce” or tomato “gravy” — and don’t send me emails arguing your case, because that debate has been going on forever and won’t be settled by me — chances are, the tomatoes came from the ubiquitous yellow cans of Canton-based Pastene, the country’s oldest family-owned importer of authentic Italian food and ingredients.

My wife’s tomato sauce recipe (yes, we call it “sauce”) is based on her late grandmother’s, who swore by Pastene’s Kitchen-Ready Tomatoes. I am here to tell you — her sauce is the best.

Mark Tosi, the president and co-owner of Pastene, recently spoke with me via Zoom as part of the Business Journal’s ongoing video chat series, Candid Conversations. Mark told me he hears from customers all the time who say their family recipes are based on Pastene products. We also talked about succession planning over six generations (and who’s coming up behind him); we talked about Pastene’s Prohibition-era “sacramental wine” distribution business, and we talked about how Mass. residents moving to Southern states has actually helped his business — they’re demanding Florida grocery chains carry Pastene products. (Of course, we covered a few other interesting topics in our 20-minute discussion, and you can hear all of it in the video below.)

As for my wife’s recipe, I can’t share her secret, but I can tell you Pastene offers recipes on its website — and, yes, they call it gravy.

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