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August 8th, 2012

by Total Food Service

Legendary Westchester Sauce Maker Creates Menu Magic


For many who have been blessed to live into their 80's, enjoy or yearn for retirement, Lou "Mr. Sauce" DiLisio missed the memo. Sure there was a brief recent respite to the beach to help his bride and business partner Lucy celebrate her 80th birthday. But that was followed by a quick return to his life's passion, creating the nation's highest quality sauces.


Lou and Lucy DiLisio started Casa DiLisio Products in their home in Connecticut in 1973. The Westchester company’s first sauce was a French style scampi sauce later called Sauce Provencal. Casa DiLisio was the first company to put frozen Pesto Sauce on the market for foodservice. They were the first people to put Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts in the market in a frozen state. This year, as they prepare to celebrate 40 years in business they have made and sold over 350 tons of Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts. They are the only manufacturer who uses only fresh Basil and Pine Nuts in their Pesto Sauce. All of their sauces are made with only the finest ingredients and freshest herbs.

The fresh smell of basil welcomed the Total Food Service team upon arrival last month at Casa D'Lisio's home in Mt. Kisco, NY. "There's simply only one way to make pesto,” Lou DiLisio explained.

"You need to buy the highest quality fresh basil, pine nuts and cheese. Regardless of the price in the marketplace, we simply will not compromise. We then prepare the sauces by hand."

According to Lou DiLisio, 37 years ago you couldn't sell pesto sauce, no one knew what it was. Last year Casa DiLisio produced and sold over 600 tons of Pesto Sauce. Casa DiLisio is also one of the very few companies using only FRESH BASIL in their Pesto Sauce. The commitment to quality led to the American Culinary Federation awarding the nation's only Gold Certification to their Pesto Sauces.

Many competitors through the years have brought entries to the marketplace that has featured cheaper ingredients that were machine processed. "We recently did a tour of several major distributors throughout the country,” noted the firm’s sales and marketing chief Linda DiLisio. Our approach was very simple we did tastings for sales teams with our product and the cheaper competition. In each case the room went quickly silent because the salesperson that is in front of the chef everyday knew that their customer simply would accept nothing less than Casa DiLisio quality.

In addition to their Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts they have the following Gold Medal winning sauces: Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (VEGAN), Fire Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (VEGAN), Puttanesca Sauce, Cilantro Pesto, Creamy Alfredo Sauce, White Clam Sauce, Walnut Pesto, Sauce Provencal and Napolitano Tomato Sauce and Basil Pesto without Nuts. Casa DiLisio also just introduced a VEGAN Basil Pesto Sauce, which brings the number of outstanding Vegan Sauces they have to offer to three. Their sauces are freshly made 52 weeks a year, using only the finest ingredients and the secret touch of tender loving care. They make all of their sauces in small quantities and freeze them immediately to preserve the delicate, unique flavor and consistency.

Lou DiLisio has always been one of the industry's trust visionaries in his ability to direct the firm's ability to read the ever-changing needs of the food service marketplace. "The dining public has intensified the demands of the chain operator. They typically have an executive chef that works in a corporate environment to build the menu. The actual kitchen restaurant is then operated by a culinary team in which the goal is to execute consistency. Our pesto and full line of sauces enables the chain operator to manage consistency.

"I graduated from secretarial school and agreed to help my folks out for a couple of weeks until I found a job," noted daughter Linda.

"Well here I am 30 plus years later and I never left. I can't tell you how much I have learned from this man working by his side. His commitment to the quality of our products and the needs of our customers simply never ceases to amaze me.

Casa DiLisio's quality has made it a nationwide leader. The firm has a client base that reaches throughout the Caribbean, Hawaii several countries around the world. The food service industry such as white tablecloth restaurants, hotels, resorts, pizza restaurants, contract feeders, airlines, cruise lines, universities, hospitals, multi-unit restaurants, and home replacement markets are currently using Casa DiLisio’s frozen sauces.
The expansion of the line has been driven by Lou DiLisio's vision for continually creating new menu solutions for the firm's customer base. This has included a new bred of pizza chains that are utilizing Casa DiLisio sauces to create signature pies and a major national c-store chain utilizing the sauces to launch a line of gourmet sandwiches.

Casa DiLisio's goal to create the ultimate in Italian Frozen Sauces has simply never wavered. With a family member present to oversee the quality and consistency of their freshly made products, the DiLisio family signature is on every serving to ensure their delicate, unique flavor and consistency.

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