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Michael’s of Brooklyn sells its authentic pasta sauces nationwide

Borough institution selling its pasta sauce nationwide

The Brooklyn Paper

Some say that the borough’s manufacturing base is withering, but one Brooklyn small business is looking to expand production.

Michael’s of Brooklyn, the iconic Sheepshead Bay restaurant, sells its signature, home-style pasta sauces nationwide, giving people across the country a little taste of Old Brooklyn, while promoting the borough’s brand with an authentically local product.

“There are sauces out there that have Brooklyn in the name, but they’re made in Jersey,” said co-owner Fred Cacace. “Brooklyn has a certain cachet to it.”

The half-century-old, family-run restaurant first dove into the sauce-selling game four years ago and began by marketing locally.

For years, the Cacaces sent patrons home with take-out containers of their famous sauces, but as time passed, they saw an opportunity and began packaging the stuff in shelf-stable jars.

Now gourmands can get the restaurant’s gravy (actual, brown gravy), marinara, puttanesca and arrabbiata from grocers such as Fairway, Eli’s, and Whole Foods Market.

Michael’s products are available coast to coast — and they even have Texans saying “fugheddaboudit.”

“Texas is one of our largest markets,” Cacace said.

The restaurant’s cooks make everything on-site at the Avenue R restaurant. The production is not complicated, but that is what makes the product so good, Cacace said.

“It’s simple,” he said. “It’s the way you would make it at home.”

Workers cook hundreds of pounds of imported Italian tomatoes in three 80-gallon kettles, adding olive oil, garlic, herbs, and other ingredients, depending on the sauce. When the mixture is done, it is piped into jars via a filling machine. The cooks then pop on a lid, label the jars, and let them cool.

The production team can turn out 280 cases of sauce in one day — that is 3,400 32-oz. jars — said manager Joe Cosenza.

Soon that output may quadruple. The company is investing in machinery to automate the process, allowing the restaurant to make around 1,000 cases a day, or roughly 3,000 gallons of the red stuff, Cacace said.

Automating production will not burn the 12 sauce-makers Michael’s employs, though. The company will actually take on more workers to keep up with production, Cacace said.

“The object is to make more sauce, not get rid of people,” he said.

Anticipating an even heftier output, Michael’s is joining the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and the organization’s president said he could not be happier to have the team aboard.

“They are a true Brooklyn success story,” said Brooklyn Chamber president Carlo Scissura. “They are Brooklyn.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.

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The Chooch from Choochinello's Spicy Bohemian Sauce says:
"Sometime in the last 20 years, a new trend began taking shape in the world of production. Suddenly it seemed like everybody wanted their pickles brined in small batches, their beer made by a craft brewer, their bicycles assembled down the block. Though the phenomenon of artisanal goods has become a Brooklyn cliché, such production has also continued to grow. Spurred on by small producers, the city's manufacturing sector saw its first full year of growth in more than a decade in 2012. And observers say these statistics, drawn from federal classifications based off old manufacturing models, leave out entire categories of new industry—particularly those in arts and entertainment-related production—and fail to fully capture the reality of growth."

http://m.ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/16/how_nycs_decade_of_rezoning_changed_the_city_of_industry.php
March 19, 4:54 am
T-Bone from DoBro says:
Hipsters. They 'll be gone soon after daddy's money runs out.
March 19, 7:05 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
smh. it's just awful what happens when Brooklyn becomes its own brand. darn hipsters.

long live the brooklyn of declining jobs and nationwide scorn!
March 19, 8:49 am
diehipster from Crushing Calebs says:
#1 this isn't in Sheepshead Bay; but how would an out of town reporter and a bunch of transplant yups know that?

#2 This is an amazing example of a real Brooklyn establishment and staple representing Brooklyn - because they can and are allowed by the unwritten laws of Brooklyn nature. You won't find one hipster inside or out that awesome restaurant. And their cannolis across the street at Michaels bakery are unbelievable.

LLAB!!!!!!!
March 19, 10:18 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Diehipster, let's never heard you whine about how much other people pay for coffee or eggs now that you've praised a place that charges $16 for a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. You don't really have a leg to stand on anymore.
March 19, 10:34 am
NYPD from NY says:
↑↑↑↑Yeah but, LLAB BRO! LLAB!!!!!!!↑↑↑↑
cryhipster has officially become lamer than hipsters.
March 19, 11:01 am
The Chooch from Choochinello's Bohemian Fooderia says:
Not a leg to stand on for the rednecks. There is absolutely no difference between this family business of a generation standing, and any hipster food business in Bushwick. Nothing. Except that one entrepreneur was born in Brooklyn and another was not. Nothings shows up the bigotry behind the anti-hipster movement like this story about foodies in Brooklyn who are riding the "made in Brooklyn" brand. And ... they've only been exporting their product for two years. They did not invent the "made in Brooklyn" idea, hipsters did.
March 19, 12:47 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Bohemian Fooderia says:
Oh look, NYPD, Jerome was always way, way lamer than hipsters. He's unemployed, angry, resentful, and bigoted to the bone. His sentiments have nothing to do with real Brooklyn. Real Brooklyn is the Brooklyn that pulls itself up by the bootstraps and turns around a failing industrial economy. And you can do that if you're from Brooklyn, Boston, or Bangladesh.
March 19, 12:56 pm
NYPD from NY says:
Chooch,

Notice how these idiots never chime in about "Real Brooklyn" in the blotter? Or complain that it's hipsters raping, robing, assaulting [women]? This dude is corn.
March 19, 2:02 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Bohemian Fooderia says:
The Chooch takes notice, NYPD. Ey! We've been at this gentrification business for 30 years! We know mugging and crack dealing were the local cottage industry before foodies and designers gave the neighborhood a new place to stand on. Spike Lee can be as bigoted as he likes. But if he can go to Hollywood, who's he to say the whole of Fort Green can't BECOME Hollywood.
March 19, 2:22 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Bohemian Fooderia says:
The Chooch takes notice, NYPD. Ey! We've been at this gentrification business for 30 years! We know mugging and crack dealing were the local cottage industry before foodies and designers gave the neighborhood a new place to stand on. Spike Lee can be as bigoted as he likes. But if he can go to Hollywood, who's he to say the whole of Fort Green can't BECOME Hollywood.
March 19, 2:22 pm
The Duke from Flatbush says:
Michael's is on Nostrand Ave.

Nostrand Ave goes to Williamsburg.

Therefore, hipsters.
March 19, 3:04 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
What a pathetic clump of comments to a simple story about a good restaurant recognizing its marketability. Michael's is in what most real estate firms would describe as Marine Park or Midwood or Homecrest. And if there is an anti-hipster movement, they've only brought it on themselves as pretentious artsy fartsy culls who couldn't make it in their home town, unlike Michael's.
March 19, 4:14 pm
NYPD from NY says:
This place is a dump and the sauce tastes like watered-down ketchup. What a ripoff!
F-
March 19, 4:28 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Spicy Old World Bohemian Sauce says:
Really NYPD? The place is lousy? How does it compare with the sauce at, say, Roberta's in Bushwick?
March 19, 4:49 pm
NYPD from NY says:
Dunno, never been to Roberta's.
Sbarro's has the best sauce, hands down.
dur hurrrrr.
March 19, 4:56 pm
jay from bay ridge says:
this comment thread lowered my IQ
March 19, 5:33 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Jay, Roberta's will raise your IQ, if you can afford it. It's harder to get a table there than it was to get apartment in the neighborhood only 8 years ago. But well worth it! The mother of all Hipstoid fooderias.
March 19, 5:43 pm
ty from pps says:
I've eaten at Michaels 3 times now... luckily on my boss' tab. The service is great and all, but DAMN it ain't cheap and it's pretty much run-of-the-mill Italian fair. Nothing extraordinary. The sauce is decent, I suppose. Don't know if I'd buy a jar of it.

I do have to say, I enjoy the fact that all three times I've been there, there has been an old school union boss or two "holding court" at big tables... and I'm sure expensing everything (i.e., his frequent, high-priced luncheons are paid for by rank and file union workers' dues). It's nice to see blatant corruption alive and well.
March 19, 6:25 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Old World Bohemian Sauce says:
Sounds like Mook Mecca! Maybe like Bamonte's in Greenpoint? That was the only restaurant around back in the day. That and Giando's. It was good. But heavy! Sounds like they could use a little hipsterizing. You know, less tomato, more pesto, gluten-free pasta.
March 19, 6:46 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
Ty,
How did you determine they were Union bosses? Could you tell us who they were or what unions they were bosses of? You can name names here. Thats quite an accusation, I hope you don't mind backing it up. Was the Godfather there? MAbe Vinny Barbarino? Anyone from Jersey Shore? Name the boss and the union please or go change your tampon, nitwit.
March 19, 7:24 pm
NYPD from NY says:
↑‎↑‎↑‎↑‎↑‎LOOOOOOOK AT MEEEEEE MOMMY!!!!↑‎↑‎↑‎↑‎↑‎
You seem very butthurt, bro.
March 19, 7:59 pm
ty from pps says:
Swampy,
No commentary about my review of Michael's food and prices?
March 19, 8:33 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Old World Bohemian Sauce says:
Swampy, prove to me that every hipster in Bushwick is living off mom and dad, or take your Prozac and dry up you mook redneck moron. Go ahead prove it. Until then, every goombah with a table a Michael's is skimming off the union. Those are the rules, live with it.
March 19, 8:48 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
Ty, name the boss Ty, don't hide. answer the question. you made a declarative statement. proof please
March 19, 8:49 pm
Chooch from Choochinello's Old World Bohemian Sauce says:
Name the Trust Fund, Swampy. Show me the hipster who doesn't work for a living. Your whole hissy fit is based on this, so out with it. Don't hide.
March 19, 8:57 pm
The Chooch from those swaggering Bohemian Goombahs says:
HA! Will you look at that! Swampy's got his panties in a bundle because Ty saw a wiseguy at some jernt out in Sheepshead Bay and said so. "Name the boss!" oooooo ... Scary scary. Hot flashes honey, what is it a full moon or something?
March 19, 9:03 pm
The Chooch from those swaggering Bohemian Goombahs says:
"Ty, name the boss! You made an accusation." What a joke. The Chooch is crackin' up here. What are you, Swampy, a strongman for the neighborhood bookie? You want me to run down the number of gooombahs, wiseguys, scumbags, and welfare frauds I've seen in Brooklyn ON SIGHT with no proof? Far, far more than the number of hipsters on trust funds than anyone's ever seen. That's right Ty, "Name the Boss!" What a joke.
March 19, 9:09 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemo-Hipstoid "family" says:
C'mon swampy, don't hide. Demonstrate to the Chooch that every hipster lives off mom and dad just like every mook is on welfare or in the mob. You're going on like a blue-haired Avon lady about this day in and day out. So prove it, or take your estrogen supplement and dry up. "Name the Boss, Ty!" What is this, mook kangaroo court?
March 19, 9:31 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemo-Hipstoid "family" says:
C'mon swampy, don't hide. Demonstrate to the Chooch that every hipster lives off mom and dad just like every mook is on welfare or in the mob. You're going on like a blue-haired Avon lady about this day in and day out. So prove it, or take your estrogen supplement and dry up. "Name the Boss, Ty!" What is this, mook kangaroo court?
March 19, 9:31 pm
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
$7 for string beans, eh?

Hmm.

Who we kidding though, none the slobs that eat there are ordering string beans.
March 19, 9:36 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's a Neighborhood Family Hipster Trattoria says:
Meh! That settles it. The Chooch is satisfied that Ty saw a real live wiseguy at a restaurant in Brooklyn. Anyone got a problem with that?
March 19, 9:38 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's a Neighborhood Family Hipster Trattoria says:
Meh! That settles it. The Chooch is satisfied that Ty saw a real live wiseguy at a restaurant in Brooklyn. Anyone got a problem with that?
March 19, 9:38 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Neighborhood Vegan Pizzeria says:
I'm sorry, the Chooch doesn't know why he finds this so funny. Swamp lady sees a hipster in a restaurant who's obviously a trust fund slacker. Ty sees a wiseguy in another restaurant who's obviously a scumbag. And we need proof? Proof of what!
March 19, 9:51 pm
NYPD from NY says:
Chooch,

You're cracking me up. —— is too funny, well done. swampdonkey won't reply, even though he usually double downs on his stupidity.
March 20, 10 am
diehipster from Left Hooking Logans says:
Bwahahahaahahahahaha!

Almost forgot about this thread from yesterday where I simply crushed a brigade of yup commentors with 2 sentences and started the usual tornado of nasallness and hurt comments. I just counted EthanChooch had 17 comments!!!!!!! Ouch is all I can say. Talk about being defensive and delusional.

EthanChooch, you use so many words and posts but you know you're fighting a constant uphill battle. Why bother? Face it - the people of Brooklyn and most of this country hate hipsters and yups. Don't waste so much energy. 17 comments!!!! 17 comments to fight one real Brooklynite.

THE POWER OF DIEHIPSTER COMPELS YOU!!
March 20, 12:50 pm
NYPD from NY says:
↑‎↑‎↑‎↑‎↑DELUSIONAL Idiot↑‎↑‎↑‎↑‎↑
March 20, 2:11 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Old Bohemian Artisanal Anything says:
GUFAW !!! The Chooch is pleasantly bemused. It is totally irrelevant what "most people" think. "Most people" did not gentrify Brooklyn, that was done by maybe a thousand artists and entrepreneurs. "Most people" have to live with the consequences of gentrification, but "most people" have nothing to do with initiating it and "most people" can't do anything about it except complain or cheer, as the case may be. We won this battle a long time ago. "Most people" have nothing to do with it. And show me the hipster who gives squat what "most people" think of him. "Most people" go to White Castle, which is history. "Most people" are sheep. "Most people" get herded around by what a few people do. Now skiddie along now scoot get off my stoop.
March 20, 2:35 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Old Bohemian Artisanal Anything says:
Now you run on down to the hipsteria and see if they need a dishwasher.
March 20, 2:45 pm
Is there an EDITOR from this paer says:
The place is not in Sheepshead Bay. Why wouldn't the editor of a BROOKLYN paper correct this????

Michaels was great..in the 70s and 80s. Wasn't better than Jean's..in Sheepshead Bay though.
March 20, 11:35 pm
Is there an EDITOR from this paper says:
see above
March 20, 11:35 pm
ty from pps says:
What neighborhood is Michael's in? All the folks crying "This isn't sheepshead bay!!!" haven't offered an alternative... You wanna call this Marine Park? Or would there just be a chorus of "Doesn't this paper have an editor!? This isn't Marine Park!" etc.
March 21, 10:13 am

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