Producer of the Week: Aunt Mamie’s Italian Specialties

Aunt Mamie knew more than a thing or two about making gnocchi, ravioli, fettuccini, and spaghetti. Despite being paralyzed on one side of her body from a stroke, she was an expert at using her rolling pin to make homemade pasta. Mamie is Mike Vaccaro’s late mother who lovingly passed her authentic Italian recipes and pasta-making talents along to her son and daughter-in-law, Theresa.

“My mother showed my wife how to make pasta using her recipes,” Mike said. “She taught her how to cook gnocchi, meatballs, and sauce.”

Mike and Theresa are owners of Aunt Mamie’s Italian Specialities. They began their business two years ago in August 2013. Within this time span, they have expanded the distribution of their products from local farmers markets to Whole Foods Stores in Pennsylvania (Devon, Glen Mills, Jenkintown), New Jersey (Cherry Hill), and Delaware.

“Our goal is to grow the business slowly,” Mike said. “We do everything by hand. There’s no mass production. Every gnocchi is made by hand, one at a time.”

Mike remembers growing up and using a fork to make groves in the gnocchi. This fork has now been replaced by a 3×5 gnocchi board, but the process of hand-making them has not changed.

“Our customers love our all natural products made without any preservatives,” Mike said. Discerning customers also love the authentic good taste of Aunt Mamie’s pastas. Mike gave the example of one customer who purchased his gnocchi and said if she liked it, she would return to the market and give him a hug and a kiss. Three weeks later, she did just that.

“I really love having people taste our pastas and sauce and like it,” Mike said. “I love it when they come back for more.”

And patrons do come back. They return for Aunt Mamie’s ricotta gnocchi, sweet potato gnocchi, and pumpkin ravioli. Here at the UM Farmers Market, Mike said customers really like his fettuccini.

Mike and Theresa enjoy being a producer at the UM Farmers Market. “It’s well set up and staffed by volunteers. Everyone from Lydia on down is friendly and so willing to help,” Mike said. “The patrons are friendly, too. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Stop by Aunt Mamie’s booth this weekend to purchase their handmade pastas. Once you try them, there’s a good chance you’ll be back to give Mike and Theresa a hug and kiss, too.