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!

org_basil copy
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

40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mary
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 21:56:50

    Well, Pam, if I ever see Enrico’s sauce in NC, I will try it! Being in an Italian family, we are very picky about our sauces and salsas. I’d like to find a sauce in a jar that makes us say, “Hey, that ain’t too bad!”


  2. Pam
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 22:23:21

    Mary – I hear you about the pickiness of the sauces and salsas hanging around Italians myself. I am *very* picky about them even though I’m not Italian. I usually don’t like homemade sauce that well. Enrico’s sticks to the spaghetti unlike a lot of sauces that leave the pasta nude while the sauce is running all over the plate. Let me know if you find Enrico’s!!


  3. jayne
    Dec 31, 2007 @ 07:42:05

    Sounds yummy!!


  4. Tom Colceri
    Jan 01, 2008 @ 18:34:29

    I’ll remember Enrico’s for the rest of my life as my favorite restaurant and miss it beyond words. My parents brought me there since I was a little boy, and in all the restaurants I’ve eaten in since, I’ve never had lasagna better than Enrico’s. Today I’m 54 with my own family and enjoy cooking. If possible could Tony please share Enrico’s Lasagna recipe? I’ve tried to duplicate it many times and never been able to get it as good as I remember.


  5. Pam
    Jan 01, 2008 @ 18:38:59

    Jayne – It is!

    Tom – I’m glad I’m not the only one with fond memories of Enrico’s. Nothing compares to them, that’s for sure. Mmmm, Tony’s lasagne, it would be great to have the recipe!


  6. Anna Salamone
    Jan 01, 2008 @ 18:46:39

    It was with great interest that I read the article on your blog about Enrico’s Sauce and Enrico’s Restaurant. I am assistant and archivist to Aldo Tambellini (the artist of the murals). I have written an very touching story about my search for the murals and the reunion between Aldo and the Visciglios. It was mrs. Visciglio who wanted the murals painted and she was the one who preserved the murals and saved them for the artist. After 50 years the murals were returned to Aldo. I was wondering if you had some resources to whom you could me refer to have the story published and Enrico’s revisited as it would be a tribute to a Syracuse Familty which has contributed much to the area. Mr. Visciglio, wiht whom we are in contact, lives with his daughter in Texas. I also have pictures of the murals which I could make available to you and pictures of the family.


  7. Pam
    Jan 01, 2008 @ 19:07:23

    Anna – Wow, this is interesting! I’m emailing you.


  8. Elaine Lewis
    Feb 22, 2008 @ 17:16:30

    Onondaga Valley Academy was our school and Enrico’s was our restaurant and the place we as teens and our families would eat. Incredible food and fond memories that will last forever. I moved to SE North Carolina many years ago and a few years ago I found a jar of Enrico’s sauce. Was such a gift!!! I missed Syracuse so much and to me Enrico’s is Syracuse. The bread, the sauce, if it’s great, it was Enrico’s. Sorry to see the landmark gone. Thank God for memories.


  9. Patrick Lyons
    May 06, 2008 @ 18:45:20

    Thanx for stirring up a lot of memories. My family and I lived 4 doors down Newell St from Enricos from the 40’s to the late 60″s. My father(” Red” Lyons) used to take our family to “tony’s” for dinner about once a month and Tony would always go out of his way to welcome us and make sure we had our usual booth. I also remember The Midland Pharmacy across the street which was run by Al and Herbie and next door to the pharmacy was Nicholas Bros Market ran by Joe Nicholas and his brother (?). I also graduated from Valley and will always treasure the memories of the old valley area.


    • Patti
      Apr 09, 2014 @ 23:57:29

      Nicholas Bros grocery was owned by Joe and Fred Nicholas. Fred was my father. I remember that they hired boys from St Anthony’s to deliver groceries to their customers. All a customer had to do was call in their orders. You seldom saw Uncle Joe or dad without a pencil behind their ear. How I miss those days.


      • Judith (Hertel) Roquet
        Jul 01, 2014 @ 14:08:29

        I remember going to Mashie’s. My mother used to send me over from our home on W Pleasant Street and I didn’t need money. It was just put on our account. I still remember exactly what the store looked like inside. They were nice people but they did not put up with any nonsense from some of the wise guys that came in the store.
        Was there an apartment over the store. I think there were two kids around my age that lived there, Linda and Jimmy Flood. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

        I also remember the meat market behind the store. I used to go into the store with my mother and I loved the smell of the sawdust on the floor.

        I hate to admit it but those were the good old days to our generation. It was a much more innocent time.


      • Pat Lyons
        Jul 06, 2015 @ 19:15:41

        Hi Patti,
        I guess I should check this a little more often! My family and I lived 3 doors down Newell ST (318) from the corner, I remember the brothers soo well as I used to go in there to “work” when I was about 10 or so. They would let me go in the back and sort empty card board boxes. The ones we would keep always were thrown up into the netting hung from the ceiling. I would usually wind up with some gum or candy for my “labor”. I can remember going to their store with my father for xmas trees that were stacked out in front. He would by one and we would drag home, down Newell St. Great Times !!!
        Pat Lyons

    • Larry Windsor
      Jun 25, 2015 @ 19:40:34

      Patrick, i grew up 5 houses east of Enricos and remember it well. By the way Joe Nicholas brothers name was Fred. I also went to OVA and then into the Marines for 10 yrs. My Father and Tony were good friends. At Holloween time, id stop at Tony,s Kitchen door, was always envited in and Tony would make me Speghetti and Meatballs to take home. Loved anything cooked there and ate there often as I could.


      • Pat Lyons
        Jul 06, 2015 @ 19:18:55

        Great Memories all around. I graduated from OVA in 60, and also went in the Corps from 62/ 66. The final OVA reunion is coming up the weekend of July 24th starting with a get together at the Valley Legion on the evening of the 24th.

  10. Larry Windsor
    Sep 24, 2008 @ 18:21:58

    Just reading the comments brought both good memories and a tear to my eyes. I lived 5 houses from Enricos Restaurant on W. Newell St., the 200 block. My Family loved going there as often as possible. When I was very young I was in costume at holloween and knocked on Enricos Kitchen Door. When the cook answered up I said Trick or Treat, not nowing any better. Tony was in the kitchen and recognized me and asked me into the kitchen. When asked what I wanted I said Sphegetti. He sat me down and I forgot about holloween and began eating the meal. I remember the Drug Store, And Joe And Fred Nicholas. I left Onondaga Valley in 1959 to enter USMC. I missed going to Enricos then and now.


  11. Steve Gehm
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 16:09:07

    I’m trying to contact “Patrick Lyons” whose comments about Enrico’s were posted at this site on 5/6/2008.

    Is your Dad the Francis “Red” Lyons who owning/operating a flying service at Hancock Airport, member of the OX-5 Club and Quiet Birdman?

    I have some aviation ties/history to share with you.


  12. Patrick Lyons
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 19:41:50

    Hi Steve,
    Sorry, but haven’t checked this site since I posted or I would have gotten back to you sooner. Yes, my dad was Red and ran Lyons Flying Service out of Nedrow Air Park and the old tower at Hancock. We lived At 318 W Newell Street for a number of years in the 40s and 50s.


  13. Steve Gehm
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 18:33:12

    Your Dad had a huge impact on aviation, the city of Syracuse and our family personally.

    I spent some time at your Dad’s commemorative plaque at the airport recently in reflection:

    – we had your Dad’s plane (N6351E) for many years (have great pictures).
    – Your Dad taught my Dad how to fly (where I got to observe).
    – that aircraft and your Dad helped spawn the “Mach 2 Flying Club” of which my Dad became President.
    – this resulted in the sons (me/brother) to pursue careers in aviation.
    – my career in aviation became directly tied to the events of 9/11 resulting in another career in national aviation security.

    Your Dad passed much too soon but indeed had a tremondous impact on succeeding generations in unique and probably unknown to you ways. Almost 42 years later and I still park near the old “Sair Aviation” and observe when I’m not in the air myself on a flight!

    Are you still in the Syracuse area?


  14. Patrick Lyons
    May 08, 2009 @ 19:36:38

    Hi Steve,
    If you get a chance, e-mail me @ plyons3@twcny.rr.com
    Pat Lyons


  15. Amy Benevento
    Nov 18, 2009 @ 17:14:10

    Tony Visciglio (who you write about) is my Uncle. He is still living with his daughter Linda (who takes care of him) in San Antonio, Texas and is almost 100 years old! I saw him 2 or 3 springs ago when I visited Linda and my Uncle. When I was a child growing up in Fayetteville, New York, my family hardly ever went out to eat. The few times we did, we ONLY ate at Enrico’s. I remember the rich-colored murals on the walls and the heavenly smells. Back then, we dressed up to go out to eat. Every Thanksgiving, we went to my Uncle Tony’s and Aunt Bessie’s for dinner. Not only Uncle Tony, but Aunt Bessie was a WONDERFUL cook! Aunt Bessie was a soft-hearted sweet and gentle person who worked right along with my Uncle Tony in the restaurant. Uncle Tony always had this huge grin and said “Hi Doll!” to all the women. They’d sit at our tables, and other customer tables when they were regulars.

    ~Amy Benevento


  16. Adrian
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:19:02

    Hiya!. Thanks for the blog. I’ve been digging around for info, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the good work. I will be coming back over here in a couple of days to see if there is any more info.


  17. Anna Consoli
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:07:52

    I wanted to sadly inform you that Tony Visciglio died this past Sunday. There will be a wake and Burial in Syracuse this coming Sunday with burrial on Monday. I wish that the Posto Standard would write a story about him and include my piece about the mural. Tony was a great man always willing to help anyone anyway he could.
    anna salamone


  18. jim bedigian
    Jan 30, 2010 @ 21:49:25

    We would wait for the bus to go downtown in the bar at Enrico’s on Midland Ave. We lived on the corner of Richardson and Newell in a 4 family house now gone


  19. Richard (Ric) Dean
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 12:23:53

    Sorry to here of Tony’s passing, we as a family we often dined at Enrico’s and I have fond memories of Tony visiting table to table with a sincerity uncommon to the present dining experiences; but what can you expect from today’s franchised chain restaurants.
    I wonder if would be possible to put to word the sense of community back then.
    Regards; Ric Dean


  20. Amy Parks
    Nov 02, 2010 @ 11:04:01

    Does anyone know what has happened to Enrico’s sauces? Are they no longer in production? We love the sauces but haven’t been able to locate any in a year or two. We would order online but can’t even find it there. I was hoping that maybe the brand or label had just changed.


    • linda
      Aug 13, 2011 @ 10:26:45

      Enicos restaurant sauce and Enricos sauce that you buy in a store are not the same sauce.


      • Lawrence (Larry) Windsor
        Jul 16, 2017 @ 20:53:52

        I know Linda, but somehow for old time sake, I would by it anyhow and dream of being there in person. Tony was good friends of ours, and we lived east of the restaurant at 225 w. newell, about 5 houses. wish i had gotten some of the recipes from tony years ago. I know he would have gave them to me. He sent me to cooking school and offered me a job, but after the marines, i needed to be outside to work and got a job with my father at the Pennslvania Railroad in east syracuse.

      • Pam
        Jul 19, 2017 @ 08:57:54

        Hi Larry, Could you please send them to me, too? pamela.fry.priest at gmail.com Thanks!

  21. Pam
    Nov 02, 2010 @ 13:09:19

    Hi Amy – I buy Enrico’s sauces at Green Hills. That’s the only place I’ve seen them for the last few months.


  22. kerrie Ventre
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 20:34:31

    Grazie tante la famiglia Ventre! Our family have been using Uncle Enrico’s spaghetti salsa for years! Me Nonni, Dominic e Frances moved here from Syracuse and helped bring the sauce here. I am so sorry that we do not see it here too much any more. We con’t to support la famiglia and hope to see it sold here more. Grazie , Kerrie Ventre


  23. Kerrie Ventre
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 20:17:19

    Hey la famiglia Ventre, We have been using Uncle Enrico’s spaghetti sauce since it started! Me Nonni Dominic e Frances Ventre helped keeping it going here in Calif until recently. It is unfortunate that it is not as available as a few years ago. We Ventres in Calif are hoping that it comes back here again. buon fortuna la famiglia Ventre. grazie tante! Kerrie Ventre


  24. Melinda Young
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 16:27:15

    Is your product still available? If so, where?


  25. Judith (Hertel) Roquet
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 12:34:07

    I lived on W Pleasant Ave, one block away from Enricos’s during the late 1940’s.1950’s and 1960’s. My parents and I went to Enrico’s for the great Italian food and also they had the best prime rib. My parents were friendly with the owner and he used to bring me a bowl of of the broth. Of course my doctor would frown on that now. I have memories of going there with friends and boy friends. I live in NH now and I remember going to the grocery store quite a few years ago here with my two daughters and I spotted a familiar face on a jar of spaghetti sauce, Marty Ventre’s picture. I told my girls that I attended high school with him. They thought that was so cool. I bought the sauce but have not seen it around since. Ah yes the “good old days.”.


  26. Judith (Hertel) Roquet
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 12:47:23

    I lived a block away from Enrico’s on W. Pleasant Ave from the late 1940’S until the 1960’s. My parents and I often had dinner there. We all loved the Italian food but I remember the prime rib being excellent. My parents were friendly with the owner and he used to bring me a bowl of the broth that it was cooked in. Yummy! Of course my doctor would not be very pleased about that now. I have many memories of going there with friends and boyfriends. Yes “The good old days.” Several years ago I was in the grocery store with my two daughters and I spotted a familiar face and name. There was a picture of Marty Ventre on a jar of Enrico’s Sauce. I told the girls that I attended high school with him and they thought it was so cool that I knew someone that was on a jar. I did buy the sauce and did enjoy it but have not seen it since I would purchase it if I knew where to find it..


    • Larry Windsor
      Nov 15, 2017 @ 20:24:40

      Judith, last time i purchased the sauce, it was at Tops in north syracuse, accidently seen it on shelf and bought some. I believe the manager said it came from locally.


  27. Judith (Hertel) Roquet
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 18:41:15

    Sorry I guess I can’t talk on the phone and write on the computer at the same time. I thought somehow I lost the first message.


  28. Patricia A Rusczyk
    Jun 26, 2017 @ 08:36:34

    I know this is a longshot but does anyone know where I could get a picture of Nicholas Bros Grocery? My dad Fred Nicholas, passed away in 1997 a two years after my uncle Joe. When I searched google it brought me here…where I had posted on 4/9/2014. You can reach me at opattiann@aol.com


  29. Lawrence (Larry) Windsor
    Jul 16, 2017 @ 20:59:15

    Patricia, My dad worked part time for Fred and Joe. The original store was on the corner of Newell and Midland across from Enricos, Then they moved diagonal across midland next to the drug store. My dad had pics of the store somewhere. Dont know if i still have them, but if i do ill send them to you. Sorry the brothers are gone now, I loved knowing them


  30. Heather
    Aug 01, 2017 @ 19:53:57

    My grandma lived at 154 W Newell and we spent a lot of time at Enricos. I loved the murals and the rose coloed walls the big fat rigatonis and the music boxes in the booths and the glass blocks in the bar area. Any photos of the inside of the restaurant would be appreciated.


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