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By Kathleen Ostrander | STAFF
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"Sauce Maestro" brings classic Sicilian flavor to your kitchen
By Kathleen Ostrander

The classic sauce that Sicilian grandmothers let simmer on the stovetop for hours is just a twist of a lid away, and it has its roots in Springfield. About six years ago, Joe Jannazzo decided to market the family sauce made famous at the Track Shack at Third and Laurel streets.

Prior to making the meatballs smile in approval at the Track Shack, the sauce graced the dishes at The Supper Club. Angelo Jannazzo, Joe's father, was part owner of the restaurant. On the other side of the family, Stella and Onofrio Vitale prided themselves on cooking with love for their family.

Onofrio's (pronounced Oh-no-fre-oh) Classic Sauces allow cooks who don't have time to let something sit and simmer all day to still cook with love after simmering only about 10 minutes.

The company currently has three sauces:  Marinara, which would be a classic sauce used on fish; Basilica, which as the name implies, balances the tomato out with a nice little herbal zing; and then there is Sugo di Carne, which is a meat sauce with pork and beef.

"They are classic red sauces," Jannazzo said. "I would actually like to do several more."

He's thinking of a puttanesca sauce, which is a little spicier then the marinara sauce. Traditionally, it has anchovies and capers in it. He's currently testing an even spicier sauce that would be an arrabiata. In Italian, arrabiata means "angry," and the sauce is usually made with either dried or fresh chili peppers.

The arrabiata tested well at this spring's Illinois Products Expo, but the trick is getting the same taste out of mass production.

"It took us over a year and a half to get the marinara recipe just the way it was supposed to so it tasted right made in large batches," Jannazzo said.

Onofrio's Classic Sauces are better than other sauces because the main ingredient is tomatoes, he explained. "Not a puree with a bunch of water - but tomatoes," he said. So Onofrio's Classic Sauces don't separate into water and tomato sauce on your plate; they stay on the other ingredients.

Jannazzo's business card says he's the "sauce maestro."

"When my wife and I got married, I was actually a better cook then she was. Now she's a great cook and a big help," he said.

Onofrio's Classic Sauces can be purchased at the IGAs in Chatham, Petersburg and Rochester, on The Hill in St. Louis, at County Market stores, Country Market and Schnucks stores in Springfield.

Pick up a jar and serve a classic Sicilian sauce - with love from Springfield.


Mom's Hamburgerand Pea Soup

1 jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup frozen or canned sweet peas
¼ cup chopped onions
¾ pound ground chuck
6 cups pasta water (reserved)
¼ pound tiny shells (or any small pasta) cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: In 4-quart saucepan, add olive oil; sauté onion, ground chuck, salt and pepper. When onion is tender and ground chuck is browned, stir in 1 jar marinara sauce. Heat until bubbly. Add 3 cups pasta water, peas with their liquid and two bay leaves. Bring to a light boil and simmer 10 minutes then add pre-cooked pasta and reduce to low simmer. Simmer five more minutes and remove bay leaves. If  too dry, add more reserved pasta water. Serves 6 - 8.

Chicken Cacciatore

1 jar (26-ounce) Onofrio's Classic Marinara
2 boneless chicken breasts (4-6 ounces each)
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
½ bell pepper cut into strips
1 pound linguini or pasta of choice, cooked and reserved
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pats butter
1 minced garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions: Cut chicken and bell pepper in strips and set aside. In large frying pan, add butter and oil; sauté cut up chicken with pepper and salt. When chicken is browned, add minced garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms. Sauté an additional three to four minutes. Add 1 jar marinara sauce and bring to light boil. Salt and pepper to taste and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately over reserved pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 3-4.

Basil Sauce with Sausage and Mushrooms

1 jar Onofrio's Classic Basilico sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 pound cooked pasta
½ pound Italian sausage
1 tablespoon butter
6 ounces assorted sliced fresh mushrooms
Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions: In medium frying pan brown Italian sausage, remove from pan and reserve. Saute sliced mushrooms in butter and soy sauce until tender. Add 1 jar basilico sauce and sausage. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with reserved pasta and garnish with parsley.

Eggplant Parmesano

1 jar Onofrio Classic Basilico
½ pound fresh mozzarella
½ cup grated asiago (optional)
1 large eggplant
¼ grated parmesan
Olive oil, flour

Directions: Remove top and bottom of eggplant and slice in ½-inch slices. Salt each slice to draw out liquid and put in strainer for 10 to 15 minutes to rest. Pat dry with paper towel and lightly dredge each slice through flour. Fry in non-stick pan until lightly brown on each side. Cool. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Spread a layer of basilico sauce on bottom, layer with half of eggplant slices. Top with salt and pepper and ½ of cheese mixture. Repeat sauce, eggplant, cheese and top with remaining sauce. Heat in 375 degree oven until hot and bubbly - about 10 to 15 minutes.

Champagne Lobster

1 jar Onofrio Classic Marinara
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup champagne, Asti or chicken broth
2 to 2 ½ pounds lobster tails
2 tablespoon butter
2 lemons (one juiced, one sliced for garnish)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Parsley for garnish

Directions: Heat water in large stockpot to boiling, add salt and lobster tails. Cover and heat until water resumes boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes. Remove tails to drain. When cool, remove lobster meat from shells and cut in medium to large chunks. Melt butter in large sauté pan add champagne, lobster, red pepper flakes and juice from one lemon. Heat thoroughly while uncovered. Add 1 jar marinara sauce. Heat to light boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot garnished with lemon slices and parsley. 


Shrimp Creole Onofrio

1 26-oz jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara
1 T corn oi
l½ c chopped green pepper
½ c chopped celery
1 t Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T Worcestershire sauce
½ to 1 t chili powder
Pinch of red pepper flakes or dash of hot pepper sauce
12 oz cleaned raw shrimp3 4 c cooked rice (reserved)

In a 4-quart saucepan, sauté green pepper and celery in oil until tender. Add one jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara and all other ingredients except shrimp and reserved rice. Heat until bubbly. Add shrimp, cover and steam until pink, approximately three to six minutes. Stir in reserved rice and serve. (Serves 4-6)

Red Clam Sauce Onofrio

1 26 oz. jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara
2 or 3 - 6 oz cans chopped clams (drained and reserve juice)
¼ t red pepper (optional)
1 lb. linguini or pasta of choice (cooked and reserved)
2 pats butter
2 oz wine of choice (optional)
Grated parmesan and parsley for garnish

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat wine, butter, clam juice and bring to a boil. Reduce mixture by two-thirds. Add one jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara, clams and red pepper. Bring to light boil. Reduce heat to slow and simmer until thickened, about five to 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce mixture over reserved pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley and parmesan cheese. (Serves 4-6)

Onofrio's Spicey Shrimp Diavolo

1 26 oz. jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara
20 to 24 medium sized shrimp - fresh or frozen
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. linguini or pasta of choice (cooked and reserved)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)
Chopped parsley
1 lemon sliced thin

Combine thawed shrimp, olive oil, garlic and red pepper to taste, in 4-quart saucepan. Heat shrimp on medium until pink about three to five minutes and set aside. All 1 jar Onofrio's Classic Marinara. Bring back to light boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer about 20 minutes. Add reserved shrimp, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices. (Serves 4-6)




Story published Friday, May 1, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 3 )

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