Interview with Dan Bavaro, Founder of Bavaro's Italian Specialties

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about yourself? How did you get started? 
Dan Bavaro: I was born and raised in NJ and I trace my ancestry back to Naples and Bari, Italy.  Growing up, most of my family resided in Brooklyn and Staten Island, where I would spend most holidays and family gatherings (enjoying some amazing Italian cuisine!)  My wife, five kids (ages 3-10) and I moved to Tampa, FL in 2008.  We opened an Italian restaurant and designed the menu around traditional Neapolitan Pizza and Southern Italian cuisine.  I exercise a fine balance of business ventures, family, physical, and spiritual time.  Without that balance, there is no functioning through all the responsibilities of growing a restaurant and retail brand while supporting a family of seven.   

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about Bavaro? How did that begin?
Dan Bavaro: Our restaurant opened in 2009 focusing primarily on pizza and salads.  After the first year we began to design some authentic sauces for our pasta dishes and catering menu.  During the early days of our foray into catering, we had an event cancel on us.  Instead of tossing a large batch of sauce, we decided to bottle it as I did in my childhood in NJ.  After the sauce sat on the shelf for a few months we labeled the jars and started selling it locally in an attempt to draw traffic to the restaurant.  We caught the attention of national retailers (Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.)  Along with getting picked up by local retailers, the sauce made it into the hands of celebrity chefs.  They fell in love with the sauce and began promoting it.  This led Bavaro's to be invited to cook at the 2012 Emmy Awards.  

When the sauce line started taking off, we created Bavaro's Italian Specialties to focus on the retail brand.  We launched the website www.BavaroFoods.com in August 2010 to create an online store front for our products.   

Sarah Velasco: What is your mission at Bavaro Foods?
Dan Bavaro: Our mission is to offer the finest products we can produce without jeopardizing our reputation and quality for profits.  We truly offer an authentic homemade sauce in a jar.  Being the manufacturer allows us to control how our sauces are produced.  Our products compete in the premium market space, but our ingredients and flavor profiles provide value for the price.  As we grow our business, we are excited to offer new positions to those involved in youth programs.  We hope to offer anyone interested a better future and a stepping stone into the business world.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about your products?
Dan Bavaro: The Bavaro product line currently consists of five gourmet pasta sauces and one Neapolitan pizza sauce (the first of its kind in the market!)  Our ingredients focus on all-natural produce, imported San Marzano tomatoes prepared the old fashion way.  In the future we have plans to offer unique, quality products that will compliment our brand.

Sarah Velasco: What makes Bavaro's sauces different from other ones on the market?
Dan Bavaro: Bavaro's is an up and coming brand owned and operated by a young group of very dedicated individuals.  We are all sacrificing and striving for the success of the brand.  Our passion is passed on through our culture and could never be created in the boardroom of our larger competitors.  For this generation, food is the next rock n' roll and Bavaro's is filling the void within the Italian market. 

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers two of your favorite recipes that they can make at home? 
Dan Bavaro: I prepare lentil soup at least once a week, the recipe can be found at our website and is easy to follow!  In addition to lentils, I enjoy linguine with shrimp; simple to make but absolutely delicious!  When I open a jar of Bavaro's to feed my family, we rarely use it on pasta.

Sarah Velasco: Are there common misconceptions when it comes to sauce? 
Dan Bavaro: One of the biggest misconceptions our culture has about pasta sauce, is that it is ONLY for pasta.  It is our mission to educate our supportive community that our sauces can be used in many ways in addition to topping some delicious pasta!

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers find your products?
Dan Bavaro: Readers should navigate to the Shopping Cart section of www.BavaroFoods.com, enter their zip code and find a store local to them.  We currently have distribution in North East, the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest.  For all other regions the sauce can be purchased online.

Sarah Velasco: Anything else you would like us to know? 

Dan Bavaro: Without the support of our local community, friends, and family we could not have made it this far.  We are slowly but surely breaking into the national market to compete against some of the largest brands in the industry.  We covet word of mouth reviews and repeat customers who continuously support our products.  If you have never tried Bavaro's... now is the time!  When you find that you love it, spread the word and support an up and coming brand!

Image from www.bavarostampa.com of Bavaro's Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria, located in Tampa, Florida