Title A Little History

war posterAll Italian-American family histories start with an emigration tale. This is but one of  millions, all uniquely different, but all sharing this one point of commonality. We all had to get here from there, and usually with great risk in hopes for a better life.

Alfredo Rossi constructed mobile “field bakeries” for the Italian Armed Forces during WWI to provide bread and pasta to the front lines. As they say, an army travels on its stomach. Sometimes its ability to wage war effectively is compromised on a full one .

Italians never let a war get in the way of a good meal.

Upon his discharge from service in 1917, Alfredo emigrated to the United States, the promised land of dreams and opportunity. Not being able to speak a lick of English, he arrived on Ellis Island with sixteen cents in his pocket.

Utilizing his unique skill set of being both a machinist and a baker, he partnered with Nicholas Procino in a small entrepreneurial venture making fresh pasta in a barn on East Division Street in Syracuse, NY, servicing the ever-growing Italian neighborhood on the north side of town.

pasta boys
Pasta delivery boys
Procino had been trying to get a pasta company off the ground for a few years before joining forces with Alfredo, with little or no success and recruited Alfredo. Soon after arrival, Alfredo married Procino’s 16 year old daughter Pasqualina: Procino and Rossi Macaroni products was officially born.

The P & R partnership was a marriage, and not only in a business sense. Shotguns have been rumored to be involved.

Little Nick Rossi
Nicola Alfredo ("Little Sonny")
Starting by selling their wares out of the front of the family home, and then delivering their dried pastas by horse and wagon. Alfredo and Pasqualina’s family was started as well and a son, heir, and future pasta scion Nicola Alfredo (“Little Sonny”), was born in 1926.

Procino and Rossi logoAfter the backyard barn burned to the ground, the combined Procino / Rossi family business relocated to Auburn, NY. Over the years, P & R Pasta grew into a major mass manufacturing pasta and sauce factory, employing several hundred people, and servicing a large regional area of the Eastern United States, delivering their wares with a fleet of 18 wheeled Mack tractor trailer trucks and  selling over 100 cuts of specialty pastas, bottled sauces and grated cheeses made in the “old world way” in major chain grocery stores and little mom and pop corner stores in NY, VT, OH, PA, NJ, and even KY.

Nick and Linda Rossi
Nicholas and "Lovely Linda" on their wedding day
All that grew from a little man from a small coastal fishing village near Naples, Italy with 16 cents in his pocket and a big dream.

Nicholas the future Pasta Scion (“Little Sonny”)  grew up as a “second generation” Italian- American in Auburn, eventually to manhood. He married “Lovely Linda” in 1955, and took over major operations of the Washington Street factory in 1958. In 1960, their third child Giorgio Guiseppe made his way into the world.

P & R was wiped out by the floods caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Nick rebuilt the factory, and then sold it to Hershey Foods in 1978. Nicholas went on to start a successful food brokerage; one that he still operates to this day at age 85!

P & R products were still sold until Hershey Foods retired the label in 2011.