Straight from Sicily, the Marisa Foods Italian meat recipes derive from old-world traditions and a commitment to delivering the highest quality ingredients. The 65-year-old company’s success is built on sibling co-owners, Vince and Marisa Passanisi’s third-generation vision to always be inventive. It’s a vision that is putting this Italian meat manufacturer and delicatessen on the map with traditional formulas that collide with trending spice profiles to meet the needs of today’s chefs.
When Vince and Marisa’s grandfather, Vincent Passanisi immigrated to California, he was drawn to the coastal climate that mirrored his Sicilian homeland. He opened a neighborhood Italian delicatessen called Santa Fe Importers and it wasn’t long before word spread and he was called on to make his popular Italian homemade sausages, meats and grated cheeses for local restaurants and caterers. Over time, manufacturing improved and his business expanded to help customers produce private label items.
Today Marisa Foods serves customers with both their normal fare of premium quality Italian sausages, pepperoni, deli meats, grated cheeses and more, along with custom goods including Cajun sausages, chicken cilantro sausage and Asian chicken meatballs.
Quality has never waned over the years. For Marisa Foods, which still uses only the finest quality, fresh, lean pork and natural casings, it’s cooking the way you’d cook.
“We use old family recipes and truly pride ourselves on the quality of our ingredients. Everything is high quality; we use fresh produce, fresh parsley, real Pecorino Romano cheese. We peel our own onions and crack our own eggs. This is what makes us different. It’s like you would prepare food in your own Italian kitchen,” says Vince Passanisi who adds that they serve their products to their own families. “We’re proud to say that, because quality matters.”
Keeping it in the family
With their father, John Passanisi, now retired from Marisa Foods, Vince and Marisa have kept his family values and passionate-approach to business alive.
“He’s always been a great mentor to us and his perspective and experience is simply invaluable,” Marisa says of her father who still visits the business regularly.
“Vince and I have been in the business since we were very young and we have a great relationship. We are able to separate business from family easily,” Marisa says. “Truthfully, being reared in all aspects of the business really helped during the leadership transition.”
Marisa Foods grows with their customers and their needs. The company recently acquired XLNT Foods, one of the oldest tamale and chili producers in Southern California that began in 1894.
“It’s a little naive to think you can stay in one niche forever. Even though our strong suit is Italian, we are meat processors with the capacity to do other things because of the nature of our equipment. We produce spaghetti sauce, so it was a natural transition to do chili with that same equipment,” Vince says.
Not only does Marisa Foods reach national markets with their products, they are also in the restaurant business. The company operates three delicatessens in the Los Angeles area. The day-to-day bustle of running the market allows them to put themselves in the shoes of their customers. That’s why they know quality and consistency are crucial elements.
A customer-centric approach
Constantly listening to their customers needs, Marisa Foods now produces customized products, like pepperoni for a customer interested in natural, nitrite-free pepperoni and gluten-free meatballs.
“We definitely have a customer-centric view,” Marisa says. “Our philosophy is that without our customer, we are nothing. Jordano’s matches the same philosophy and we love being associated with them. They are well respected and do great things. Like Jordano’s, we are not just in business for ourselves, we’re in business to serve our customers.”
For more information about Marisa Foods, visit their website www.marisafoods.com.