You’ll need to read today’s post the whole way through and then, if you have sons or daughters, nephews or nieces, you’ll need to hug them close and explain why you are cooking for them with sauce from Caffe Nonna. It’s love in a bottle. Really.

Caffe Nonna is this little joint off of Murphy Rd in Sylvan Park that consistently serves up some of the best food in town. I’ve been a huge fan of Caffe Nonna for years.  My husband can’t get enough of their lasagna and currently on the top of my “favorite salad to order out” list is the Portabella Mushroom Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese.

Dan Maggipinto, owner and chef at Caffe Nonna, was born into the food business and his family has been serving up authentic Italian food for generations:

Dan’s great grandfather, Eugene Mariani, in front of his Italian produce store that he eventually made into a restaurant.

A merger of blood line foodies occured when Dan married Maria Townes. Maria’s grandfather owned the much loved meat-n-three across from Greer Stadium, Hap Townes, for 50-60 years.  He also started the first pie wagons in Nashville. You see where I’m going with this: these people don’t just know food, food is a part of their very being.

Until recently, I somehow had missed the fact that you can buy Dan’s Caffe Nonna sauces – bottled – to inspire excellent cooking at home. You can and you should. Here’s why:

Think of the Chianti Jelly as an ingredient and think outside the box: brownies, dressings, and sauces. The Marinara sauce, both regular and spicy, are great. A little Caffe Nonna in your own home.

Chef Dan has spent eight years perfecting the bottling of his sauces. The marinara sauce (both regular and spicy) and his Chianti Jelly are hands down terrific. He now sells pasta, crackers and gift baskets as well. You see, the purpose behind the Nonna Gourmet Foods line has always been to create an income stream to fund The Zoë Marie Brain Tumor Research Fund. Zoe is Dan and Maria’s daughter who died at age two from a rare form of brain cancer. These sauces and gourmet foods provide a connection to her legacy and her family’s desire to fund research so that future families will not have to lose their child to this cruelest of diseases.

From the Community Foundation:

As a child, Zoë was full of life and quick to share her infectious laugh. From the outset, she was a “charmer,” always able to get her point across. At the tender age of seven months, Zoë was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive tumor found in the cerebellum and spinal areas of children younger than three years old. Marie and Daniel Maggipinto, Zoë’s parents, knew from the beginning there was only a 20-25% chance their little girl would survive but they threw themselves into the fight with the help of St. Jude Hospital. Even with that powerful team, Zoë passed away just after Thanksgiving in 2002. The Zoë Marie Brain Tumor Research Fund was created to continue the fight against childhood illness so that other families may have greater hope.

You can order the sauces online, www.nonnasgourmetfoods.com, or buy them at The Produce Place, Cash and Carry on Charlotte, and at Caffe Nonna. Soon you will be able to buy them at Whole Foods and Publix.

Be inspired to cook for your family this February and use some Nonna Sauces to make the meal all that more special. Recipes are available online here. You are helping a dad “cook for a cure.”  The fact that it’s the best-jarred sauce around makes the choice easy.

Embrace life. Love more; laugh more; cook more.

Caffe Nonna: 4427 MURPHY ROAD NASHVILLE TN 37209  615.463.0133