When it comes to ravioli, Anthony Fontanarosa knows a thing or two about those pasta pillows filled with decadent cheeses and other delicious fillings. In fact, Fontanarosa has been cranking out hundreds of ravioli a day since the early 90s.
At the small pasta manufacturing facility and deli/specialty grocery store in Totowa, Fontanarosa gave me a behind the scenes tour and a closer look at what makes him so well known for his ravioli and pasta.
The Denville resident and his sister, Luciana, took over the family business in 1989. With a lot of hard work and creativity, Fontanarosa found his niche and has evolved his business around it. He’s gone from hand-making ravioli with a manual machine to making upwards to 4,000 ravioli a week with a powerful La Monferrina P2 Pasta Machine.
Fontanarosa’s started out as a butcher and sandwich shop and also did some catering. Today, Fontanarosa says the bulk of the business is farmers’ markets and supplying to restaurants. Because Fontanarosa’s is a small company, it allows for flexibility to cater to other small business who might require special orders.
“You want 5 lbs of pasta, I can make 5 lbs. You want black pasta, I’ll make it. The big companies can’t really do that.” Fontanarosa says.
On the day we visited, he showed us two outgoing orders for area restaurants linguine with a hint of lemon and a special order of black pasta. One of the most unique special orders was a ravioli with black garlic and fennel.
Fontanarosa’s supplies pasta to 27 restaurants, including New Jersey favorites such as Luciano’s in Red Bank, Old Man Rafferty’s in New Brunswick, E&V in Patterson, Fresco and Agarre in Montclair and Two A’s in Hoboken.
Today, the company has five full time employees and two on the field who help out in the farmers’ markets. Fontanarosa currently has a presence at four area farmers’ markets. In addition to Denville, Fontanarosa’s can be found at Ringwood, Long Valley and Ramsey.
“At one time, we were up to 20 markets,” Fontanarosa says. His pasta and other delicious food have been featured at farmers’ markets such as Ramapo to East Brunswick.
Because Denville is his backyard, Fontanarosa has been a staple at Denville Farmers’ Market since day one. And if you were to ask any of the other vendors, Fontanarosa’s easy-going personality and graciousness has earned him the unofficial title as the market “assistant manager.” When he’s not greeting market visitors on Sundays, Fontanarosa can usually be found making fresh mozzarella on site. And because Fontanarosa’s is a family operation, his daughter often helps to sell the ravioli and pasta at the Denville Farmers’ Market.
Fontanarosa developed all 72 ravioli flavors; most are a huge hit, and some, not so much. Playing up his culinary creativity and combining accessibility to fresh ingredients offered at farmers’ markets such as ours, Fontanarosa is able to develop unique flavors. This week, he created a goat cheese and beet ravioli with beets he got from fellow Denville Farmers’ Market vendor, Chickadee Creek Farms. Pictures and words can’t describe the naturally vibrant hue and luscious taste of this original Fontanarosa ravioli creation.
Fontanarosa’s certainly lives up to its name as the best kept secret in Totowa; but more appropriately, he should be known as Denville’s own Ravioli Guru.
Be sure to check out Fontanarosa’s at the Denville Farmers’ Market this Sunday and grab some fresh mozz and homemade ravioli. And if you’re ever around Totowa, stop in to Fontanarosa’s Deli and Specialty at 86 Lincoln Ave.
Fontanarosa’s Gourmet Specialty Foods
86 Lincoln Ave, Totowa NJ 07512
Owner: Anthony Fontanarosa
Years Open: 33