The versatile tomato sauce can be added to recipes or enjoyed over pasta.
Getting a sunburn 15 years ago on Nantucket sparked an unexpected path for Steve Green, founder of The Rowayton Sauce Co. Instead of hitting the beach with his five children and the friends hosting them, he stayed back to make dinner. Helping his friend’s Aunt Maria in the kitchen, the two prepared marinara from an Italian family recipe. Green was hooked.
After vacation, he started making the marinara at his Darien home with a few tweaks of his own. Constantly experimenting with new flavors and ingredients over the years, he’s revised the recipe countless times and put his own spin on the sauce. Green’s signature marinara became a crowd-pleaser at dinner parties and family gatherings, so he started hand bottling the sauce to give as gifts.
“My friends and family encouraged me to start selling the sauce commercially,” recalls Green. “They said it was better than anything they buy in the store.”
He “decided to take it to market” and launched The Rowayton Sauce Co. in the fall.
“We use all-natural ingredients in our marinara—with no sugar added and no powdered spices,” says Green. “It’s made with fresh garlic, onions and a variety of dried spices.”
After raising his family in Darien, Green lived in Rowayton for five years. To capture the town’s nautical setting for the brand, he asked a friend to bring his boat to Five Mile River and hired a photographer to snap away.
“I wasn’t gung-ho about going with mushrooms and tomatoes for the label. The design had to be something interesting and a little different,” says Green. “In a very crowded market, this label stands out. Rowayton is kind of unique in that.”
When it was time to scale up the sauce production to 300 gallons, Green turned to Supreme Manufacturing in East Brunswick, NJ. The family-owned and operated company has nearly 40 years of experience and is the same company that manufactures other well-known food products, including Rao’s. In fact, Green conducted a recent blind taste test on-site and most of the samplers chose his sauce over Rao’s in the competition.
“Our manufacturer makes The Rowayton Sauce Co. taste the same as when I cook the marinara at home,” says Green. “They nailed it.”
Now that Green’s five children range in age from 19 to 28—and live in locales from Connecticut to Thailand—he often visits them with marinara in hand. On a recent visit to Trinity College in Hartford, he brought plenty of jars to make chicken parmigiana (see sidebar recipe) for his son and his fellow football teammates. As Green notes, “It went pretty fast”
The Rowayton Sauce Co. is now available at four local stores, including Darien Butcher Shop, Harbor Harvest in Norwalk, Palmer’s in Darien and The Rowayton Seafood Fish Market.
Eventually, Green plans to expand product offerings with an alfredo and fra diavolo sauce. But for now, he’s thrilled to see his marinara on shelves 15 years after discovering the base for his serendipitous sauce.