Ciao Pappy founder Francesca Pittaluga PHOTO BY JENNIFER SOSA
After a career in luxury fashion, working with brands including Brunello Cucinelli, L.A.-based Francesca Pittaluga launched Ciao Pappy (ciaopappy.com)—her line of preservative-free, California-made tomato sauces—in early 2022. “The company is inspired by my Italian father, ‘Pappy,’” says Pittaluga, who lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood with her husband and dog. “He is the most incredible home chef and has blessed us with his talents in the kitchen my whole life.” Not only is the sauce delicious, but a percentage of proceeds goes to organizations that support aging adults. Here, Pittaluga digs in. –Laura Eckstein Jones
Ciao Pappy currently offers two flavor-packed marinara sauces, both made from California-grown ingredients. PHOTO BY JENNIFER SOSA
How does Ciao Pappy stand out? I am the first to say I would never buy a jarred marinara. I spent my life learning to cook from scratch and then life got... busy! After all, we can’t be a hero in the kitchen every night. When I am short on time, my go-to dish is a pasta pomodoro. I was underwhelmed with the jarred marinara options on the shelf. We worked very hard to create a sauce that valued taste and quality. We produce our sauces here in California and use 100% California-grown whole ingredients (we do not use any preservatives, thickeners, pastes or any artificial ingredients). This was an important piece of our Italian American storytelling—inspired by Italy, made in California. Also, we wanted to create an aesthetic that evoked joy and appealed to the modern family. We believe in surrounding yourself with beautiful things that make you happy, even behind the pantry doors.
Pittaluga with her father, Andrea, the inspiration behind Ciao Pappy PHOTO BY JENNIFER SOSA
I know you have a charitable angle in place. Can you explain the cause you chose to support? As my parents and grandparents approached retirement, I noticed it was harder for them to keep abreast of technology with how quickly things were changing. They still wanted to work, stay connected and be involved in our world, but it’s hard to keep up! Italians are doing an incredible job of embracing the aging community and know it is important to take better care of our aging adults. On a quarterly basis, we donate to Older Adults Technology Services (OATS); they do wonderful work around these efforts and help our nonni stay connected to the world.
How do you see the brand growing over time? Our hope is to be in as many pantries as we can! It would be a dream to share my father’s recipes, our story and our heart with the world. Our vision is to create a lifestyle around the table and in the kitchen that brings happiness, connection and community. Eventually, we would love to create our own dried pastas, olive oil, kitchen linens and cookware. If we are really dreaming big, a fast-casual modern Italian cafe would be really fun.
What’s next for you? Our main focus right now is expansion. In the first couple of months of our launch, we opened 20-plus stores and carried in local specialty stores such as Gjusta Grocer, Botanica Market, Wine and Egg s, McCall’s Meat & Fish Co., Lady & Larder, Monsieur Marcel and more! We are excited about introducing the product to larger specialty retailers and growing in other markets. We are also working on a collaboration with the ladies at Atelier Saucier, a summer dinner series and, of course, creating more recipes!
PHOTO BY JENNIFER SOSA
SPAGHETTI ALLA NORMA
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
• 1 jar Ciao Pappy Marinara Classico
• 4-6 small egg plants, cut in ½-inch slices
• 1 cup olive oil, or as needed
• 1 lb. fresh or dried spaghetti
• ½ cup ricotta salata, grated
• Pinch of sea salt
• Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Step 1: Prepare your pasta water and set to boil. Add a few pinches of salt to the water.
Step 2: Wash the egg plants and pat them dry. Cut the egg plants in ½-inch slices and set aside.
Step 3: In a large pan, heat 1 cup of olive oil. Add sliced egg plants and season with a few pinches of salt. Fry the egg plants until they are browned and soft , about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate (optional to let drain on a paper towel).
Step 4: Drain your pan, leaving only a small amount of olive oil. Add your jar of Ciao Pappy Marinara Classico and heat.
Step 5: Add your pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, cut your egg plants into strips and add to the tomato sauce.
Step 6: Drain your pasta and add to the pan of sauce and egg plants. Mix together well.
Step 7: Serve and top with grated ricotta salata. Sprinkle sliced basil garnish on top.