The story of Valente’s Italian Specialties actually begins in the small town of Bisenti in the Abruzzo region of Italy, which is where proprietor Marcello De Feo‘s grandparents (Paola and Corrado) and children (Santa and Gaetano) migrated from. This immigrant story is the same as so many others; the Valente’s came to America from Italy in search of a better life. Lucky for us they did; bringing their culture and cuisine with them.
As a first generation Italian-American, Marcello grew up eating and, eventually, learning how to make all the amazing food that his Nonnna (Paola) and mother (Santa) created in the kitchen. After cooking in commercial kitchens for years, he decided it was time to bring his culinary knowledge and family recipes together. Valente’s Italian Specialties was born in 2016.
First, Marcello began cooking out of his kitchen, but quickly outgrew his home space as demand increased. He now works out of a commerical kitchen in Haddonfield, NJ that accomodate a busy farmers market schedule, catering gigs, wholesale operation, and special events. As if that isn’t enough, he’s created a “CSP” (Community Supported Pasta) program and will be launching a Supper Club. As if that isn’t enough, you can order items right off the website and they will ship to you. Phew!
They can be found at the following Philadelphia and South Jersey area farmers’ markets:
Dickinson Square Farmers Market (Sundays)
Haddonfield Farmers Market (Saturdays)
Palmyra Farmers Market (Thursdays)
Passyunk Square Farmers Market (Wednesdays)
Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market (Saturdays)
Recently, I connected with Marcello who provided some samples. I was eager to try their fresh, handmade pasta and other offerings since buying some of their marinara sauce at the Merchantville Farmers Market.
There is nothing like fresh pasta. It just tastes better, I love the texture and how the sauce sticks to it. Valente’s fresh fettucine didn’t let me down. It had just the right amount of stickiness and bite from being cooked “al dente.”
I could have easily eaten this whole plate of pasta myself! It was especially great when paired with the Bolognese sauce and meatballs.
Bolgonese is a meat-based tomato sauce, not to be confused with a ragu which is a bit more thick, meaty, and sometimes on the brown side. This is a very tomato-forward sauce with lots of fresh tomato flavor. There’s definitely meat in there, but the true star is the tomato sauce. It’s bright, tangy, and sweet at the same time. They recommend using it for lasagna.
Valente’s offers two kinds of meatballs: Classic Meatballs (beef, pork, and veal) and Chicken Meatballs. Nice meaty texture. These were a bit on the dry side for my liking, but still a great addition to any of their fresh pastas and sauces.
Speaking of sauces again, they make a really nice sun-dried tomato pesto. I love me a good ultra bright green pesto with basil or kale, but this is an interesting alternative. I love how they are not afraid to experiment! This is perfect when paired with any pasta. Be creative and put a dollop in with the red sauce when nobody is looking. I won’t judge.
They also make a really tasty orzo salad with spinach, red onion, pine nuts, fresh lemon, and olive oil. I forgot to take a close-up with the lid off. But trust me, it was very good. The lemon really made the salad pop!
Everything was delightful and I will be definitely be buying from them again. As you know, I love supporting local, small businesses. It’s not hard to do when the food is this good.
Have you tried anything from Valente’s? Let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If not, check them out at one of the farmers’ markets above and tell them Philly Grub sent you!
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Samples were provided free of charge, but all opinions are my own.
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Independent Journalist. Food marketing/PR expert.