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New York markets Gouverneur sauces

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GOUVERNEUR — A standard of the community for generations is being sold in bottles at Laguardia Airport as an example of a New York product.

“New York State has been very good at promoting goods made in New York State,” said Carl A. Petitto, owner of Greg’s Restaurant and of Cataldo’s tomato sauce and salad dressings. “There’s a chance other airports might do the same thing.”

As the story on the bottle goes, Mr. Petitto’s great-grandmother made a living cooking for royalty in Rome. When she immigrated to the United States, she brought her recipes with her. One of those was for tomato sauce, the same recipe used in family restaurants, including the Roma a one-time Gouverneur landmark and Greg’s. Greg’s was started in 1984 by Mr. Petitto’s parents, Greg and Carolyn J. Petitto. His grandparents, Carl and Lucille Petitto, and their partners, Mario and Judy DeCastro, purchased the Roma Restaurant in 1962 from Michaelangelo P. and Eleanor DeCastro. The Roma closed in 1997.

Selling sauce on its own to customers is not new. Regular vacationers to the area would often go home with quantities of the smooth red sauce made with tomatoes from California’s Napa Valley.

“They would call ahead and order 12 quarts of sauce. We’d freeze it for them,” Mr. Petitto said. “They would ask when we were going to bottle it. We finally did.”

Greg’s is for sale as Mr. Petitto, an occupational therapist, wants to join his wife, Renee J., in her business, Better Health Chiropractic of Watertown. But he also wants to keep the family tradition alive so he started bottling the tomato sauce in July, along with two Italian salad dressings.

“In a way, it’s immortalizing my grandparents’s recipes and I’m sharing it with more people,” Mr. Petitto said. “I get a lot of satisfaction from that. It’s a way of reinventing myself.”

There is no secret to the bottled sauce and salad dressings other than quality ingredients, Mr. Petitto said.

“True Italian cooking is letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Our method of using the ingredients is really what makes the flavor,” he said. “Nothing funny goes in the sauce, no sugar, no corn syrup, no xanthan gum.”

Cataldo products are made and bottled by Nelson Farms, a processing facility in Cazenovia for small-scale food operations, and distributed by Mr. Petitto.

At Greg’s, the sauce sells for $5.75 a bottle and the salad dressing for $5.50. Nelson Farms markets the sauce at $6 a bottle.

“It’s selling,” Mr. Petitto said. “There’s a big market for quality. The bigger producers will not use the ingredients we use. This isn’t corporation. This is small batch, family recipe.”

Nelson Farms was contacted by state Agriculture and Markets for products it could feature at the airport.

“I know they sent the sauce,” Mr. Petitto said.

Cataldo’s is available online at gregsrestaurantny.com and locally at Pickens General Store, Heuvelton, Kinney Drugs in Gouverneur, Watertown, Canton and Potsdam, at Mrs. Petitto’s chiropractic office, and at Riverview Wellness Center in Oswego.

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