Wilmington, NC, resident Anthony Costella shares his passion for his Italian Nonna's 3rd generation marinara (Mari-Naada) sauce recipe. What started out in his home kitchen is now a fully-fledged brand called Antonio Carlo Gourmet Sauces.
From a small village in Genoa, Italy, in 1877 to today, Anthony Costella's Nonna perfected her idea of a homemade, all-purpose marinara sauce. Originally from New Jersey, Costella and his family relocated to Wilmington, NC fifteen years ago. "I love to cook, and I've been making my Nona's marinara sauce all my life. So my wife Kate, who is clearly the brains and the entrepreneur in the family, said to me, we should bottle and sell your sauce," says Costella. That was four years ago, and today the brand, Antonio Carlo Gourmet Sauces, has expanded to include four flavors, Nona’s Original Recipe, Spicy Arrabbiata, Roasted Garlic, and Fresh Tomato Basil Leaf, with distribution across several major grocery stores, including Harris Teeter, Loews Foods, and Publix.
"Guided by my Nonna's recipes, the marinara sauces are still handcrafted, and we use the finest ingredients from Italy. Which obviously starts with the tomatoes." Costella only uses San Marzano a type of plum tomato and a region in Italy. Considered the Ferrari of tomatoes, San Marzano are grown in a specific region of Italy: the Agro Sarnese Nocerino of the Sarno River valley near Mount Vesuvius, where volcanic soils are said to produce sweeter, less acidic tomatoes.
"We've never compromised on my Nonna's old classic recipe, and we only use the freshest ingredients. Vine-ripened San Marzano plum tomatoes and Italian cold-pressed olive oil are slowly simmered with herbs and spices, with no added preservatives, sugars, or anything artificial; we achieve an authentic Italian marinara," says Costella. Traditionally the sauces are great over pasta but just as delicious with seafood, chicken, veal, pork, grilled vegetables, homemade pizza, and even as a dipping sauce.
Antonio Carlo Gourmet Sauces will be celebrating The Feast of the Seven Fishes this holiday season. This time-honored Christmas Eve tradition is steeped in history and culture. For many Italian Americans, the feast is a way to celebrate their heritage and connect with family and friends to gather and enjoy a delicious meal together.
The feast typically includes seven different seafood dishes, although the specific fish vary, depending on region and family traditions.
Along with his gourmet sauces, Costella has put together recipes you can draw inspiration from for a feast to remember.
SHRIMP FRA DIAVOLO
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 jar Antonio Carlo Homemade Marinara
• 12 ounces bucatini or linguine
• 1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped
• salt and red pepper flakes for topping
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning once, until almost cooked, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add one jar of Antonio Carlo's Homemade Marinara Sauce to the skillet. Bring to a slow simmer, occasionally stirring, until completely warm, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Add the parsley, basil, pasta, and shrimp to the Antonio Carlo Homemade Marinara Sauce and any collected juices from the plate and toss to combine. Stir in some of the remaining cooking water to loosen the sauce. Season with salt.; drizzle with olive oil; top with red pepper flakes.
LINGUINE WITH RED CLAM SAUCE
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 cups Antonio Carlo Homemade Marinara
• 2 pounds of fresh hard-shell clams, cleaned
• 1/4 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, chopped,
• 12 ounces linguine, uncooked
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add minced garlic. Saute, occasionally stirring, for two minutes or until fragrant.
Stir in marinara sauce, clams, and half of the chopped parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 8 minutes or until clam shells open. Discard any unopened clams.
Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on the package. Drain, then place in a large bowl.
Plate pasta and spoon red clam sauce on top. Top with remaining chopped parsley and serve.