Founder Q&A

Goody Founder Series: Carbone's Eric Skae

Goody Founder Series: Carbone's Eric Skae

Can you walk us through the origin story of Carbone?

Carbone is an Italian restaurant located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The restaurant opened in 2012, and replaced another Italian establishment (the 90-year-old Rocco Restaurant). Carbone was created by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick.

The restaurant pays homage to the essence of the great Italian-American restaurants of mid-20th century in New York, where delicious, exceptionally well-prepared food was served in settings that were simultaneously elegant, comfortable and unpretentious.

The food nods to that same history but takes its culinary cues from the great talents and techniques of the present and of the future. Familiar dishes like Seafood Salad, Linguini Vongole, Lobster Fra Diavola, Chicken Scarpariello and Veal Parmesan are elevated to a new level.

In 2020 I was introduced to Mario, Rich and Jeff as they had been contemplating getting into the Consumer Goods Space with the Carbone Brand. Having visited the restaurant I was aware of the cult like following and knew that we had a good foundation to build a consumer brand with. We launched in late February 2021. 

How has your background helped you expand Carbone?

First and foremost I enjoy cooking and have been making my own pasta sauce for years, this experience allows me to make certain what we put in a jar at Carbone is consistent with what you would get when making your own sauce or what would be served at the restaurant.

I have spent 30 years in consumer goods starting with my own distribution business and have at one point or another worked in most aspects of the business. I was also fortunate enough to have run and sold the Rao’s brand for the original Rao’s shareholders.

What are the core values of the brand you’re building at Carbone?

Carbone sauces are crafted in the traditional, artisanal way. Using only the finest, freshest ingredients, our 100% imported Italian tomatoes are picked at their peak of ripeness, then processed in small batches as has been the process in Italy for centuries.

In contrast, the typical tomato sauce uses tomato paste mixed with dehydrated ingredients and takes eight minutes to make. Carbone’s home-made process is one of the core tenets of the brand as is our dedication to quality in all expressions – from the small batch processing to the rendering on the label of our jar which was commissioned by a local artist who could meet the discerning specifications of Mario Carbone.

Everything that bears the Carbone name must meet Mario Carbone’s quality standards of excellence. Quality craftsmanship matched with passion, dedication and a commitment to flawless execution are the tenets and values of the Carbone brand.

How does Carbone’s sauce layer into customer’s cooking routines? 

Home cooking is either tyranny or a labor of love. Some home cooks are natural-born chefs, but most are not but they still cook at home. Why? They love to eat well and/or they love their housemates, partners, children, and cook to fill their bellies and nurture their souls.

Home-cooking is essential to Italian culture; in fact, it is one of the characteristics that defines Italian culture. And whether Italians love to cook, or cook with love, they cook red sauce! Carbone sauces were crafted with the home cook in mind.

In a recent interview, Mario Carbone said, “Recreating some of our staple sauces for people to enjoy at home has been a goal for some time and became increasingly important in the last year [during COVID]. We set out to provide the best-tasting jarred sauces and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We couldn’t be more excited to bring the taste of Carbone home!”

Carbone sauces elevate home cooking to restaurant-quality dining. One of our tag lines is “Cook like a chef. Dine like a guest,” because that’s what we want customers to feel! That is, that they are creating something remarkable, something they can be proud of, and something they want to share with others.

I’d even go so far as to say, based on the customer reviews that we’ve been getting, that Carbone brings families and friends together. It’s magical!  Carbone makes home-cooking an act of love, even for the chef that never intended it that way.

What makes Carbone's sauce a great gift? 

Carbone pasta sauce transcend its identity as a mere consumer packaged good, a commodity, a pantry staple. Our line of small-batch processed, master-chef crafted red sauces are unique not only in the pasta sauce category, but also in the pantry.

Think about it, how many master-chef crafted products do you have in your pantry right now? Add to that the celebrity of the Carbone brand name and voila, you’ve got something very special - pasta sauces with a pedigree - that everyone can use, and at a price point that is affordable for everyone.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll say again “Cook like a chef. Dine like a guest.” It’s magical.