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Monte Bene: A Mountain of Good

By Errol Schweizer, September 20, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Errol Schweizer
mb6 Neil Fusco knows tomatoes. A trained chef and restaurateur, he is a native of the legendary San Marzano region of Italy. Growing up around some of the best tomatoes in the world, it is fitting that Neil would eventually come up with pasta sauces of his own. "Since the 1800's in southern Italy, my family has farmed the world's best tomatoes, the San Marzano variety. These are the tomatoes that I use to make my Cucina Antica brand of cooking sauces as well as my new Monte Bene pasta sauces." The tomatoes are grown at the foot of Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy, giving the San Marzano tomatoes a truly light, fresh and sweet flavor. Neil's original brand, Cucina Antica, is sold at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide and is made from 100% DOP San Marzano tomatoes. It is one of our best selling all natural, artisanal pasta sauces. mb4 Neil has now taken his passion for pasta sauce to another level, with a new brand that blends San Marzano tomatoes with locally grown tomatoes from farms in New Jersey. Dubbed "Monte Bene" or "Mountain of Good," Neil's new sauce is not only more affordable but it also reflects his desire to promote ethically and sustainably sourced products. You may be thinking: "New Jersey tomatoes? You gotta be kidding me!" New Jersey is actually the birthplace of the U.S. tomato industry. For a century, millions of cans of brand name soups were made with tomatoes grown, processed and canned in New Jersey. The desire for lower cost raw materials and higher profits moved much of the tomato industry to the sunny valleys of California, leaving behind both farmers and boarded-up factories. mb1But with the rising interest in local foods and farmers markets, New Jersey tomatoes are making a comeback. Last year our Northeast Region worked with Rutgers University and local farmers to bring the Jersey Fresh™ brand of canned tomatoes into our stores in that area and it has been a stunning success. Neil's Monte Bene brand builds on this positive trend, by partnering his expertise directly with a number of New Jersey farmers who take pride in the quality of their product. Farmer Joe Leone, a third generation farmer from Clarksboro, NJ, says that the great tasting flavor comes from picking ripe, red tomatoes. "We do not pick tomatoes that are half green; only those that are ripened on the vine and picked at maturity." mb2 Farmer Ed Byrnes of Pilesgrove, NJ, has been farming since 1986 and is pretty enthusiastic about Monte Bene as well: "There is nothing better than a Jersey tomato! You can taste the difference in flavor between tomatoes from New Jersey and tomatoes from other states due to the soil." And the expert himself, Neil, says, "New Jersey tomatoes are the most flavorful for sauce making in the U.S. due to their low level of acidity, allowing for a naturally sweetened, well balanced fruit flavor. I chose the New Jersey tomatoes in making Monte Bene pasta sauces because the tomatoes are farm-fresh picked, processed within 12 hours of harvesting and travel a short distance to where they are jarred. This method makes for a truly homemade flavor pasta sauce." Monte Bene, a great tasting, artisanal pasta sauce with the goal of doing good for the common good, is available at Whole Foods Market nationwide.




Anne Falasco says ...
Do any of your stores in south jersey or philadelphia carry these canned tomatoes
09/28/2009 10:58:00 AM CDT
Cucina Antica Foods says ...
All Whole Foods stores carry Monte Bene sauce, including the onces in NJ and PA. You can also purchase the sauce on www.amazon.com
01/27/2010 9:25:31 AM CST
Erin B. says ...
I had been searching for the perfect tomato sauce that lets the tomato be the star flavor, NOT SUGAR. I hit a home run when I purchased the Monte Bene and will definitely be a repeat customer. Thanks for making such a great-tasting product that makes me feel good about purchasing it because of the way it's made.
04/13/2010 1:49:44 PM CDT
Barb Wood says ...
The Whole foods where I shop has not had these products for quite a while now and I have been so upset!!They may have just gotten them back in!I love New Jersey tomatoes!Aside from the perfect ones that come from San Marzano they are the best!!!
09/30/2010 4:35:22 PM CDT
Patricia McLaughlin says ...
I just bought this sauce on Sunday at Stew Leonards. It was so very delicious. I won't buy anything else in the future. Thank God it is low in sodium, not to mention all the other great ingredients. Thanks. Patty
02/10/2011 1:47:22 PM CST
joan tucci says ...
I am an Italian cookbook author and while in the UK I was able to purchase STAINESE whole tomato, san marzano DOC at your store on High Street in London. We are returning to Westchester County in NYS and wondering if you carry STRAINESE brand in your White Plains, NY store. We are in the throes of re- doing our book CUCINA & FAMIGLIA and would like to use STRAINESE for our recipes and would like to recommend it. Sincerely, Joan Tucci
05/15/2011 9:22:11 AM CDT
Desiree says ...
The very first bite took me back to being a kid in my italian grandfathers kitchen, making sauce. I said to myself, this is real sauce, like Leo used to make. I never learned, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for this treasure of fantastic flavor and great memories. I recommend your brand to everyone.
04/11/2012 12:38:50 AM CDT
leslie bozakis says ...
originally from jersey and miss the tomatoes. tried your sauce and loved it. thank you
05/24/2013 9:57:31 AM CDT
Dawn says ...
Monte Bene pasta sauce is the best canned sauce I've had. I love the Spicy Marinara. It is not too spicy, but has a wonderful spicy taste. The garlic is good, but needs more spice added.
01/22/2014 1:20:55 PM CST
R. Steinberg says ...
I am glad you stock this very good product.
10/13/2014 5:17:23 PM CDT
Sue reeves says ...
Why did you discontinue this product. The alternatives have sugar and are not as healthy or tasty. Watch what you discontinue as it will affect your bottom line. We are finding too many changes in your store. Don't get cozy with a certain brand or cost margin ... Your faithful shoppers will leave you.
02/07/2015 8:41:28 AM CST