A two-location Specialty Market and Catering business revives the spirit of the old neighborhood Italian pork store
by JENNIFER VIKSE • Photos by Robert Nuzzie
For Vinny LaFranca, authentic Italian food isn’t reserved just for Sunday dinners. Born in Palermo, Sicily and immigrating to the U.S. with his family when he was 11, LaFranca called Bensonhurst, Brooklyn home, and carefully watched his mother in the kitchen. He also worked in the neighborhood, and got to know many of its food industry players, including after-school and summer stints in a neighborhood salumeria (a store that produces and sells salumi—meat products of Italian origin, including sausages, cold cuts, and other foods predominantly made from pork), where he developed an understanding of meats and cuts. Gradually he started making homemade pizza, and as his skills expanded, so did his repertoire of Italian dishes.
Then he met Sal Faenza. Born in Brooklyn, Faenza was the first generation of his family born in America, and learned about Italian food from his father, who owned an Italian store in the neighborhood. After Whether it’s for a small order at the counter or a large catering spread, Tuscany offers fresh, quality ingredients— from provolone, biscotti, and dry sausage to eggplant, pasta, and brick oven pizza. It also offers the chairs, tables, tents, silverware, barbecue, and linens needed for larger events.
“Tuscan cuisine is known throughout the world as simple and traditional, using all-natural and local ingredients,” noted LaFranca. “I have a flair for the creative, so presentation is also important” adding that he can often be found working on antipasto or crudité, and is known for liking everything to be “a certain way.”
The bread is no exception. “All of our breads and pastries are made early in the morning by our bakery. We provide fresh Italian, whole wheat, prosciutto. and panelle breads daily,” he said.
Giving back to the community that has supported the business for the last two decades is also important to the businessman.
“We’ve been here for so long; it’s our 20-year anniversary. Many schools, plus law enforcement and healthcare organizations— they support us and so we want to support them,” he said. “We appreciate the business and we try to give back to the community. Our philanthropic support is eclectic; it runs the gamut from pediatric interests to senior care…whatever the needs are. We like to spread generosity around.
As LaFranca explained, “The Tuscany way is one built on love of people, love of food, quality, and careful attention to detail.” When these elements come together, he added, success is the result.
Tuscany Italian Specialty Foods & Catering
130A South Main Street Marlboro / 732.308.1118
285 Gordons Corner Road, Manalapan / 732.972.2500