Sharon Straci

Sharon Straci - The Woman behind the Sauce

Rao's Partner and Chief Operating Officer, is responsible for defining and implementing Rao’s Specialty Foods’ product strategy and business development worldwide through her strong management background and belief in the Rao’s product.

Sharon grew up in a small town in Illinois and spent a great deal of time at her grandparent’s farm.  “Spending time at the farm taught me about fresh food and fresh ingredients”, says Sharon. As a child, she participated in doing chores on the farm where she learned the value of hard work and responsibility. These tools and an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle along with Sharon’s exacting standards has established her as a business leader in the premium pasta sauce category.

Over the past 18 years, Sharon has defined and maintained the criteria for making the sauce using the finest, freshest, all natural ingredients, without added sugars or fillers, and uses traditional slow cooking methods to produce a premium sauce that tastes as if the consumer made it fresh at home for their own family.

Rao’s Specialty Foods has become a very reputable and marketable brand known for its high quality products. Southern Italian cuisine is the key to its success, and for many years, Sharon has been refining and designing mouth-watering recipes for private homes nationwide.

Sharon strives to make cooking simple and easy so that family and friends can enjoy good food and memorable times with their loved ones.

 

Ron Straci and Frank Pelligreno

Ron Straci, Uncle Vincent’s nephew and now co-owner of Rao’s, remembers serving as an informal waiter at Rao's Bar & Grill.

“I spent every Sunday dinner I could remember with “Mama Jake,” as my grandmother Francesca was called by her children and grandchildren, Rao’s Bar and Grill, next door to my grandmother’s, seemed like such a wonderful haven of good friends, fast smiles, and wonderful smells.  I can still remember the smell and taste of the sauce and meatballs that Mama Jake would make for our family.  She would make enough to feed the family and the customers at the restaurant. Only the passage of time has made me an owner, but the fond memories of family, food and friends live ”

 

Anna and Vincent Rao

Anna and Vincent Rao

In 1974, business had become so brisk that Vincent’s wife, Anna Pellegrino Rao, brought her pots and recipes to the restaurant.  Anna was an unlikely restaurant chef.  She was as elegant as her husband was homespun.  Anna’s deft touch improved all the traditional Italian dishes and Rao’s became a favorite for a small army of steady customers. Anna wondered how the family could bring this simple Southern Italian style cooking to the customers they couldn't fit into the tiny Rao's Restaurant. It was Anna's wish that eveyone would someday be able to enjoy a good homemade marinara sauce, and in 1993 Rao's Specialty Foods was formed.

Vincent Rao

Vincent Rao

Vincent Rao was a very different kind of man. Instead of tailored clothes and Waldorf haircuts, Vincent Rao preferred a cowboy hat and casual clothes.  He also preferred cooking in the kitchen at the saloon.  He was born in 1907 in the house next door to the Rao's Bar & Grill, and lived there all his life.

 

Louis Rao

Louis Rao

Louis Rao, in his tailored Chesterfield topcoats and white-on-white shirts, was, by neighborhood standards, very suave. He enjoyed being behind the bar at Rao’s and ran the place until his death in 1958.

Charles Rao

Charles Rao

Charles Rao was a child when his mother and father arrived in New York. As a bright and resourceful young man Charles Rao bought a small saloon from the George Ehret Brewery at the corner of 114 Street and Pleasant Avenue in upper Manhattan.  It was 1896.  He called the place Rao’s. In 1930, Charle's sons Louis and Vincent became the operating owners.

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