Chef in a Container

Casa DiLisio Supplies Operators With
"A Chef In A Container"

Metro New York Pizza Primer '95

"In an attempt to capitalize on growing consumer awareness," reports Linda DiLisio, "a lot of the pizza chains are deciding to try upscale sauces on their pizza instead of the number 10 cans of pizza sauce that they've been using." And in fact, Linda DiLisio (daughter of Lou and Lucy DiLisio) of Casa DiLisio, the Mt. Kisco based maker of Italian Frozen Sauces, found that this particular trend was the overwhelming theme sounded at the recent National Restaurant Association (N.R.A.) Show in Chicago.

Fortunately, Casa DiLisio, with its exotic array of award-winning sauces, had found itself perfectly positioned to benefit from this change in thinking. "After 20 successful years in the business, I'd have to say that we're truly in the right place at the right time, quips Linda.

"I've seen the industry changing," agrees her father, Lou DiLisio. "The Mom & Pop stores as well as the large pizza chains want to put different items on the menu like pasta, fish and chicken. With our Frozen sauces, they can extend their menu selections with no extra labor and know exactly what their cost will be. Even diners are looking at them. They can change their entire menu."

Linda also reasons that this particular trend is motivated in part by something of an image problem. "Chains are consistently saddled with the reputation of using inferior ingredients." "And, while families that need two incomes may not have time to cook, they still want quality food for dinner." "But, even if these places had a chef," Lou points out, "They couldn't make upscale sauces for the prices that we sell to them. We tell them, "we're selling you a chef in a container!"

Using the Casa DiLisio line in chain situations often proves to be as inspiring as it is economical. In fact, Lou estimates that by using the company's sauces as a base ingredient, operators can easily make 16 to 20 different types of pizza and main entree sauces. "They can feature the Sun Dried Tomato Pizza one weekend and the Pesto the next, without having to make them from scratch, observes Linda. "It adds quality to their menus and makes them competitive not only with other chains, but the Italian restaurant down the street."

The DiLisio's confirm that their most popular flavors include Pesto, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Puttanesca. "People are using our Alfredo Sauce as a pizza topping with fontina or cheddar cheese or crushed tomato," says Linda. "Or with broccoli and peppers," adds Lou. "And they even use our White Clam Sauce to make a clam pizza. There seems to be no end to the possibilities."

Casa DiLisio's stable of sauces is available in frozen quart containers. "The sauce can be scooped out like ice cream, so there's no waste," Lou explains. "If they have one order, they can take a scoop out, sauté it in a matter of minutes and put the rest back in the freezer." The sauces will stay refrigerated for 2 weeks.

The DiLisio's also report that they've received calls from a number of pizza franchises as result of their attendance at the N.R.A., and are now currently selling many chains as well as independent restaurants, hotels, cruise lines, universities, airlines and other.