Is there such a thing as a mega-work-ethic gene? If there is, we think scientists will discover it in Joe Faro's DNA any day now. They'll find out that his Sicilian grandmother spent eight hours to make a pasta sauce, that his parents rarely took a day off at their Haverhill bakery. And Joe? They broke the Focaccia bread mold with Joe.
Though he started working for his parents as a child, it was at the University of New Hampshire that Joe's ambition surfaced. Deeply passionate about food, he entered the Whittemore School’s Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition. Joseph's Gourmet Pasta and Sauce would win, Joe thought. Banks would knock down his door to fund him, and he would ride off into a tomato-red sunset.
Not so much. He came in second and was rejected by 15 banks. Of course, this is not how the story ends. To make ends meet, Joe was forced to work at catering and kitchen jobs. Off-hours, he'd perfect his pasta and sauces until he felt he had nailed them enough to sneak into the best restaurant kitchens and drop off samples. (Security at the Ritz-Carlton, rumor has it, chased Joe all over the building.) If a chef tasted his sauce, Joe got a phone call. And a sale.
In 2006, Nestlé Prepared Foods bought Joe's business, whose annual sales had grown from $200,000 to $60 million. Ritz-Carlton security would never chase him again. His newest venture, Tuscan Kitchen, reflects Joe's ancestral commitment to perfection. Located in Salem, New Hampshire (where he lives with his wife and children), right next to a soon-to-open artisanal market, the three-floor restaurant serves up homemade…well, everything. What's not created by hand on site is imported from Italy — truffles, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and first-press Sicilian olive oil, to name a few delicacies. Offering lunch, dinner, gluten-free menus, a traditional Sunday pranzo, and a sumptuously stocked wine bar, Tuscan Kitchen is known throughout New England for authentic Italian dishes like house-made meatballs of sirloin, veal, and pancetta served with caramelized tomato and Barolo sauce; hand-rolled pasta stuffed with hand-dipped ricotta, burrata, fontina, and Parmigiano cheeses and shaved black truffles; and hazelnut-crusted bone-in pork chop. Guests can see their meal being created in the open kitchen, and chances are, they'll catch Joe pouring wine at their table, scurrying back to the kitchen to pull bread out of the oven, and then hustling back to the front of the house to greet a new customer. Just another day for Joe Faro, genetic marvel.