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South Hills

2 Ugly Mugs in Baldwin sizzling taste buds with salsa

| Monday, April 30, 2018, 7:33 p.m.
Representatives of 2 Ugly Mugs Salsa stand for a photo with Chris Fennimore, host of WQED-TV's 'QED Cooks' program.
Representatives of 2 Ugly Mugs Salsa stand for a photo with Chris Fennimore, host of WQED-TV's 'QED Cooks' program.
Two Ugly Mugs Salsa
Two Ugly Mugs Salsa

The Perellas want you to get ugly.

What began as bottled hot sauce from produce left over in a backyard garden has turned into a growing salsa business.

Two Ugly Mugs Salsa, to be exact.

The Baldwin family's salsa already is available at 25 regional locations including local farms and Whole Foods. And now the Perellas are celebrating their salsa launch in area Giant Eagle Market Districts, with debuts set for some regional Walmarts this summer.

About six years ago, the family threw together the hot sauce to rave reviews from family and friends, who suggested selling it. And, that's just what they did.

"We knew it was a good product and we thought, 'Why not?' when hearing people say we should sell it," says Diane Perella, owner of Two Ugly Mugs Salsa.

When the Perellas approached their first store to sell the product commercially, they were told that if they wanted a product that was going to move, they should sell salsa.

So, they turned their original hot sauce recipe into two salsas: Sweet Heat and Muggin' Hot gourmet salsas.

Two Ugly Mugs Salsa includes Diane Perella's husband Mike, who comes from a generation of Italians who cooked and canned, and her son Matt.

Mike Perella stays behind the scenes cooking and testing product while Matt Perella scaled back hours at another job to focus more on the family's salsa business. The Perellas also have a daughter, Taryn, who Diane Perella hopes one day will find her way back to Pittsburgh and into the family business.

Diane Perella says the uniqueness in their salsas is that they taste sweet at first and then the heat sneaks in, even more so with the Muggin' Hot salsa. The salsas are all natural, preservative-free, and gluten and vegan-friendly.

Diane's boss, Richard Rothrock, a dentist in Green Tree, has been along for the Two Ugly Mugs Salsa ride since the beginning, even having a copy of the recipe before the Perellas decided to take it commercial.

"I've always liked salsas and I've tried many over the years," says Rothrock.

So what'd he think the first time he tried Two Ugly Mugs Salsa? "I thought it was the best thing I've ever had," he said.

His favorite way to enjoy it is mixed with hummus and dipped with a chip, he says — though Diane Perella says the salsa can be placed on chicken, fish, eggs, and she's even had customers tell her they put it in lasagna, in chili, and with kielbasa.

"It goes with just about everything," Diane Perella says.

As the popularity grows, the family has been busy debuting their salsa in more stores around the area. They'll host an event from noon to 3 p.m. May 5 at the Giant Eagle Market District in Bethel Park and from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 11 at Pour at the Park in South Park.

And, with this growth, they've already started working on their third salsa set to launch later this year. The Perellas tested the product at Seven Spring's Wine Festival last year and it was a huge hit.

So successful, that they had people wanting to buy their sample jars.

Sarah Sudar is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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