It all started in 1970, when Angela Conte came to America with her husband, Mario, and their three children. Angela, who had spent many hours in the kitchen as a child, learned at an early age the secrets of creating fine pasta. In 1975, Angela and her family moved to Vineland, NJ. With a constant abundance of friends at the Conte dinner table, Angela’s pasta was often on the menu. It was here that Conte’s Pasta was born and three years later, in 1978, Conte’s Restaurant opened its doors. And eventually Angela’s son, Mike, opened Conte’s Pasta Company.
Having been featured on such shows as The Food Network’s, “The Secret Life Of…” Conte’s had successfully created a reputation for fine pastas, pizzas, and other products. But it was in 2007 that Conte’s began working to bring their delicious line to every home in America, including those who were unable to tolerate wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Today, pizza and pasta lovers can enjoy a large array of gluten-free Conte’s products, including ravioli, stuffed shells, pierogies, gnocchi, and pizza. We had the opportunity to chat with Conte’s, Brianna Pace, to get the scoop on how this family business is got its start and their plans to grow the gluten-free lineup.
WW: How did the Conte’s brand originate?
Brianna Pace: Mauro (Mike) Conte was born in Italy and moved to the United States in 1970 with his parents, Angela and Mario, and siblings, Claudio and Lucia. Angela brought her traditions and recipes with her and began making her homemade pasta for family and neighbors. A few years later they opened a restaurant and not long after Mike decided to go into business to manufacture Angela’s homemade pasta. Restaurants all over the area began buying her pasta and as their popularity grew, it began to appear on the supermarket shelves. Over the years they have, and continue to, test new products, but always maintain the “original” pasta recipe. Conte’s Pasta Company, Inc. has one facility in Vineland, New Jersey.
WW: When were gluten-free products introduced?
Brianna Pace: Gluten-free products were officially running full production lines in 2007. Previously it was offered on a limited basis as they figured out the perfect recipe. Since then, Conte’s gluten-free products are now offered all over the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
WW: What led to the decision to introduce gluten-free products?
Briana Pace: In 1997, Mike Conte was approached by a gentleman who wanted gluten- free ravioli. Always up for a challenge, Mike immediately started working on a recipe that would work on his machines. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years, but he wouldn’t give up. After numerous tries of different blends and ingredients, he finally had something to work with. His goal was to develop a recipe that would work well with the machines and taste good! After a few years of limited production, he finally found the perfect combination and was able to run the production lines fully.
WW: How is the gluten-free line growing…any new products launching in 2015?
Brianna Pace: Mike is constantly thinking and trying new ideas. We recently launched two new items: the Gluten Free Butternut Squash Ravioli and Gluten Free Tortolloni. Of course, we are still working on new items so be on the lookout later in 2015!
WW: Where are some stores people can find Conte’s gluten-free products?
Brianna Pace: Just to name a few larger chains: Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Giant Eagle, Meijer, Hannaford, Shaw’s, Acme, Shoprite, Andronicos, Safeway. We are also in many smaller area stores and independent stores. If you can’t find our product in your local store ask if they can bring it in or see if another store in your area carries our products by going to our website or giving us a call.
Check out all of the Conte’s gluten-free products at www.contespasta.com
A great dish for get-togethers and pot-lucks, this Conte’s gluten-free soup is sure to be a favorite at the dinner table!
1 pound chicken
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, quartered
2 celery stalks, quartered
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
About 6 cups water
1 package Conte’s Gluten Free Tortolloni
1. Place chicken, onion, carrots, celery, salt, thyme, parsley and black pepper in large soup pot. Add 6 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
2. Skim fat off the surface.
3. Bring chicken broth to a boil again. Reduce to simmer and gentle add gluten free tortolloni. Cook for about 6 minutes or until soft. Enjoy!