The song goes, “You say tomato, I say tomato,” and ends with “let’s call the whole thing off,” because it doesn’t really matter how you say tomato. However, if you say gravy, and I say sauce, well, then we’re going to have a major problem. You see, we’ve found that customers become extremely passionate when presented with even lingo that harkens back to their childhood. You better say it the way Nonna said it, or else!
As second generation owners of DeCicco & Sons (brothers John Jr. and Chris, and cousin Joe Jr.), we will tell you that we grew up with a “pot of gravy” bubbling on the stove—as prepared by our Bronx-Italian mothers. However, when John Sr. and Joe Sr. emigrated to America from Italy in 1958 with their own parents, their mother (our Nonna) was making “sauce” on Sundays—not “gravy,” and this set up the big Sauce vs Gravy debate even within our own family.
It would seem that early Italians landing in America, and their succeeding generations, adopted the American term “gravy” for their tomato sauce cooked with any of the following proteins: pork, beef, lamb, or veal. In reality, this dish most closely resembles Italian “ragu,’’ or meat sauce. Meanwhile, the “fresh off the boat” Italians took their “salsa di Pomodoro” recipes from back home and kept it simply as “sauce.” If we can agree on anything, it’s that you’re eating this meal on Sunday—end of story.
So, whether we call it “sauce” or “gravy,” there is a tradition that has lasted generations at the DeCicco household—every Sunday, we all sit down and enjoy it together, as a family. Traditionally, we start with our homemade tomato sauce using San Marzano tomatoes. We then add homemade meatballs, beef and pork braciole, pork sausage with fennel, pork skin, and chunks of beef, pork, and veal “for gravy,” all prepared by our experienced butchers at DeCicco & Sons. Let it simmer on the stove for a few hours, add a few pounds of imported Italian pasta, and we’re ready for our Sunday feast!
And we’re hungry to announce that after a long-simmering vote, 66 percent of you have declared “Sauce” to be the most authentic terminology, while the remaining 34 percent cast their ballot in favor of “Gravy.” Thanks for participating, and the good news is, we’ve got you covered no matter how your like your food smothered.
DeCicco & Sons Larchmont
2141 Palmer Ave