Pasta sauce of Castle Shannon's Carbonara brothers captures Italy in jar
The jar holds more than pasta sauce.
When you pop open the top, you have a little bit of Italy to make your dinner authentic. It's the same homemade recipe you get when dining at Carbonara's Ristorante in Castle Shannon. The sauce is sold in glass jars at stores throughout the city.
Owners and brothers Tony and John Carbonara began selling their jarred sauce in June. They are in the process of reaching out to as many shops as they can.
“It was automatic for me to sell the sauce, being a regular customer, eating there two to three times a week, and also, I am always looking for independent businesses to partner with,” says Doug Satterfield, owner of Rollier's Hardware in Mt. Lebanon. “They also have a quality product. People who shop at Rollier's know the Carbonara name. They have a strong customer base and are good, hard-working people.”
Satterfield, who has a convenience-food section in his store, sold 10 cases in the first two weeks.
“The sauce is phenomenal,” Satterfield says.
It's not easy to duplicate the recipe in a jar, Satterfield says, but the Carbonara brothers have been able to do just that.
It took a few tries to get the family recipe to taste the same as the sauce made fresh daily in the restaurant. The 32-ounce jars of sauce, which are produced in Chicago, are priced at $9.50 for the meat sauce and $8.95 for tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
The recipe comes from family members in their native Nusco, Italy, east of Naples. The photo on the front of the jar was taken in their hometown.
Two of 11 children, the brothers came to the United States in 1970 with other family members. One sibling is in Switzerland, two in Italy and the rest in the States.
The brothers credit their mother, Felicia, with instilling in them a work ethic and a love of Italian food. Tony Carbonara, 55, laid the groundwork for the restaurant. He opened the first Fiori's Pizza in 1979 in Brookline with his brother-in-law and expanded to a second location in Bethel Park in 1985.
Tony opened Carbonara's in 1991. John, 52, joined the business in 1995. They expanded 10 years ago.
The brothers originally came to Mt. Lebanon because they had an uncle who lived in nearby Dormont. They live in Peters.
“We learned that you all help out each other,” says Tony Carbonara, who has been working since he was 13 years old. “That was how we were raised. You work hard for what you want. If you get off the couch and do a good job, you will be successful. But you have to work at it. You find work, and you go where the job is.”
On any given day, one of the brothers will be seen in the restaurant. Their homemade soups are one of the top-selling items. People call daily to see what soups are available and often take some to go, especially the homemade wedding soup made daily.
House specialties include chicken parmigiana and eggplant parmigiana. There are six veal dishes and many seafood options, as well as pasta dishes.
“Consistency is what we are all about,” Tony Carbonara says. “If you are consistent, people will come back, and they will also tell someone else about your restaurant.”
“This is the best family Italian restaurant around,” says frequent diner Dawn Corbett of Brentwood. “My daughter asks to come here every day.”
Corbett's daughter, Brooke McQuillan, 14, enjoys chicken fingers, fries and pizza, with dough made fresh daily.
“It's the best,” Brooke says. “Everything is good here.”
Those are the words Tony and John Carbonara strive to hear from customers — many of whom are loyal, dining there several times a week.
“When you think of the Italians, you think of a lot of people around a table filled with food,” John Carbonara says. “That is the experience we want to give our customers. We want the entire family to be able to come here, sit down and enjoy a meal together, or if they don't have time to eat out, they can buy a jar of our sauce and enjoy a taste of Carbonara's at home.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.