Enrico’s, More Yummies From Syracuse!

I’ve been searching for a good organic salsa in the jar for the past few weeks. The salsas I have been buying have lasted the entire week because they just didn’t totally make my taste buds happy. Until this week. I just went shopping on Friday night, and already I have almost devoured the entire jar of Enrico’s Organic Medium Salsa. I should have known to try Enrico’s in the first place because whenever I open a jar of Enrico’s spaghetti sauce for spaghetti squash I eat about 1/4 of the jar before the squash is done!

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Jar of Enrico’s Spaghetti Sauce

Enrico’s originated in Syracuse, NY and it is still being made in Syracuse, NY by the Ventre Packing Co. and is sold nationally and in some foreign countries. There was an Enrico’s restaurant in Syracuse for years. The restaurant actually came first, then the sauce. The history of Enrico’s Restaurant was found in the Syracuse Herald-American newspaper, Nov. 7, 1965.

By Evelynne Kramer

When Tony Visciglio first started in the restaurant business, he had a beer and wine license and $122. That was 1933, and times were rough.

Today Visciglio is the owner of Enrico’s Restaurant at 2301 Midland Ave., and he is considered among Syracuse’s most successful businessmen.

He is also executive secretary of the Central New York Tavern Keepers Association and director of the National License Beverage Association.

Tony is a short man whose smile betrays both warmth and vitality. Perhaps these were two of the qualities that spiraled his career from a busboy in the former Plaza Restaurant on E. Onondaga street to restaurant owner.

Visciglio, his mother, and three sisters arrived in the “New World” in 1920, when Visciglio was nine years old. They had come to join his father, who had come to Syracuse several years before. The family originally was from Cosenzo, Italy.

Visciglio attended school in Syracuse until financial difficulties in his family forced him to leave after a year of high school.

“I had to quit,” Visciglio said. “My family needed the money.”

At 14 Viscilgio had his first part-time job, and this was an exciting, if not glamorous, experience, he recalls today. That same year, a “promotion” was in line for him. He went to work at the Onondaga Hotel. His job – putting butter on the restaurant tables.

He also worked as a busboy and a room service waiter, and eventually became captain of the busboys at the Onondaga.

In 1926, Visciglio went on to work for the Hotel Syracuse. “I was a dishwasher there,” Visciglio said. And then he laughed. “I’m still doing that today.”

The 1930s were hard years for many Americans and apparently they were hard times for young Visciglio and his family. “I was doing everything I could to help,” he said.

Then, finally, Visciglio got his first “break.” He bought the former N. State Street Restaurant. “I had a beer and wine license and $122. Liquor licenses were too expensive.”

Matty Quinn, owner of the Moore-Quinn Beverage Co., gave him some furniture and equipment, Visciglio said. “He was a friend.”

After selling the N. State Street Restaurant in 1934, Visciglio bought the former Lincoln Inn on Schuler street.

A year later, he became the owner of the first “Enrico’s” restaurant at 2222 Midland Ave. That Midland avenue address remained the home of “Enrico’s until 1940, when Visciglio moved his business to its present address.

Looking back over his career, Visiglio thinks his success can be attributed in part to his family. “My wife worked with me for a long time,” he remarked.

The Visciglio’s have two children: Linda, 18, a college student: and Anthony Jr., 14.

Visciglio’s hobbies-keeping his customers happy and helping others in any way he can.

I remember going to Enrico’s restaurant at 2301 Midland Ave. when I was in high school and it was yummy!

Old Enrico’s Restaurant postcard.

The mural that decorated the interior of Enrico’s restaurant (not shown on the postcard, unfortunately) was done by Syracuse-born artist Aldo Tambellini. As of 2006, the mural was in storage near Hartford, CT. Enrico’s was at the corner of Midland Ave. and W. Newell St. and when Anthony and Bessie Visciglio retired in 1986 the building remained empty. The brick building, built in 1923 by the Kenyon family, was first a department store (a 1929 city directory showed it to be the site of Albert S. Kenyon’s dry goods store), then an insurance agency and a supermarket. The Visciglios bought it in 1942 and the six adjacent lots for parking. All were sold to the city. The building was demolished in September of 1994.

Location of Enrico’s
Syracuse Herald American, Sunday, July 24, 1994, pg. C2

Recipe for Veal Casserole from Enrico’s
Syracuse Herald American, Sunday, October 23, 1994, pg. AA4

History of the bottling of Enrico’s Spaghetti Sauce. John Ventre, Jr., Tony Visciglio’s brother-in-law, cooked the first batches of Enrico’s sauce in the basement of the restaurant in 1938 after realizing people wanted to take the sauce home with them. One source said the recipe came from Tony Visciglio, another source said it came from John Ventre. The name Enrico’s came from John’s grandfather Enrico. John Ventre, Jr. invented the process of filling hot spaghetti sauce into a jar and sealing it. People used to place all of the ingredients in a can and put the can in boiling water. The Ventre Packing Co. is located at 6050 Court St in DeWitt. Mmmmm, I’ll be buying not only Enrico’s Spaghetti Sauce, but now Enrico’s Salsa, mmmmm!

Enrico’s newspaper ad
The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, Sunday, March 8, 1953, pg. 36


The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, Sunday, March 8, 1953, pg. 36

Syracuse Herald-American, Busboy to Boss, Nov. 7, 1965

The Post-Standard, Neighbors Section, Page 4-City, July 28, 1994

Syracuse Herald-Journal, Metro B-1, Dick Case: Tony’s Place, Monday, April 11, 1994

Syracuse Herald-Journal, Old Enrico’s restaurant to be demolished today, Sept 22, 1994

Syracuse Herald American, Sunday, October 23, 1994, pg. AA4

The Post-Standard, Stars, Also is Back . . . Again!, Sunday, April 2, 2006, pg. 27

The Post-Standard, Saturday, Syracuse man who founded Enrico’s dies, August 5, 2006, pg. B-2