Lotito Foods Launches New, Innovative Food Solutions

Presto Cacio E Pepe sauce starters from the makers of the popular Folios Cheese Wraps will satisfy diverse palates in restaurants and at home.

By Debbie Hall

Food is essential to life, and Lotito Foods continues to develop innovative solutions working with restaurants and retailers to provide tasty, economic, and nutritious food items. 

Lotito Foods’ newest on-trend item for restaurants, retailers, and consumers is Presto Cacio e Pepe sauce starter. As the makers of wildly popular Folios Cheese Wraps, Presto Cacio e Pepe is a chef-inspired, restaurant-quality, traditional Roman Italian sauce of cheese and peppers. As a sauce starter, the product is developed as a shortcut to cooking an easy meal in only 10 minutes.

Think of Presto Cacio E Pepe as the Italian Mac and Cheese.

This sauce has been part of Italian cuisine for almost 100 years. While Cacio E Pepe is very popular in Italy, it can be challenging to prepare despite its few ingredients. When American chefs would attempt to recreate Cacio E Pepe, the cheese would clump when combined with hot water.

Through its culinary school in Italy, Lotito Foods worked with Italian chefs to create a foolproof recipe so the sauce would not clump or separate. A home cook or chef just has to add 1 cup of hot pasta water (set aside from the water used to boil the pasta), and then whisk it to become a perfect smooth sauce. Presto Cacio E Pepe has become a big hit with restaurants, food service, retailers, and consumers.

Four distinct flavors enhance so many dishes, including its Traditional Original Roman recipe with a yellow background header made with Pecorino Romano cheese blended with black pepper. The Con Pomodori sauce adds diced sun-dried tomatoes to the Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. The Con Piccante includes diced hot Calabrian chilies in Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. The Con Erbe combines wild herbs in the Pecorino Romano cheese with black pepper.

Lotito Foods’ newest product will offer its retail partners and customers their latest fresh, convenient item in 6-ounce containers. The product can be merchandised in the deli cheese case or refrigerated pasta section offering a complete meal using a few ingredients. Retail size uses one pound of a favorite pasta and serve up to four people.

“There are different kinds of pasta now like whole wheat, ancient grains, and lentil. My wife Mary Ann prepared a meal using Presto Cacio E Pepe with spaghetti squash pasta, and it was amazing,” explains Chris Lotito, owner and president of Lotito Foods.

Even before COVID-19, 2019 Nielsen data shows that in-store meal kit purchases accounted for 60% of the meal kit sales growth. Savvy consumers were using them as a shortcut to mealtime convenience. According to pre-COVID-19 data from Mintel, 67% of adults in the US eat a pre-packaged meal or side dish for dinner once a week.

A study by Hunter shows that 44% of the respondents have discovered new ingredients, and 50% have found new brands and products. Due to the recent run on staples and a desire to try different items, consumers are willing to take a chance on new food items.

For restaurants and food service, quantities of two pounds, five pounds, or 10 pounds can be purchased and scooped as needed.

Whether a chef, restaurateur, or home cook, this new product adds a unique twist to traditional dishes. Make a white pizza (see recipe) mixing Presto Cacio E Pepe sauce with ricotta cheese and olive oil spread on the pie dough and topped with mozzarella cheese. In fact, Presto Cacio e Pepe Penne Pizza was a huge hit at the Fancy Food Show in 2019.

Ready to dress up a Caesar salad? Mix Presto Cacio E Pepe with other ingredients (see recipe), and Presto, a Caesar salad fit for royalty.

“Menu items the US and Italy are now including Cacio E Pepe in potatoes, over vegetables especially broccoli, popcorn, chips, and on pasta as a continuing trend,” says Chris. “Retailers such as supermarkets are also offering quick and easy meals with a big increase in takeout and home cooking.”

Lotito Foods is a 100-year-old, fourth-generation family business that manufactures cheese items as well as imports specialty cheese and Italian foods, produces private-label food products, and provides products to food services, restaurants, and retailers. Chris continues the tradition that was begun a century ago when his great grandfather started the first family cheese business in Corato, Italy. In 1929, the year of the Great Depression, his grandmother and grandfather opened a cheese factory in New Jersey. One of six children, Chris’ father eventually took over the business.

“Cheese is in my blood,” laughs Chris, who, in his mid-20s, took over the company in 1980 after his father Alphonse passed.

Under Chris’ direction, the company became Lotito Foods. It grew from the 2,500-square-foot space in Brooklyn to a combined 200,000 square feet of operations with facilities in Edison and Paterson, New Jersey, as well as factories in Vermont and Sicily. The company makes and imports cheeses, daily products, as well as Italian specialty products such as sun-dried tomatoes, Dairy and Butter Blends, while developing new food products and offering solutions for the food service industry for restaurants and retailers nationwide.

As Chris’ grandmother explained to her family, people always need to eat, whether during an economic depression or current events of 2020. Lotito Foods takes that responsibility as an essential business very seriously. Lotito Foods also works to help people in the food service industry cut expenses while offering delicious food, which is crucial to remain in business.

“We have created, along with our partner restaurant chains, dairy-blend solutions. Our company takes a mix that will include about 80% of the recipe and create one item. Then the chef or cook at a restaurant, or food service, can complete the food item. One example is our four-cheese ricotta savory filling. Combine the filling with sauce and different pasta and a dish can be made using only three items saving on food and labor costs and freeing up inventory space. A baked ziti or lasagna can be prepared with this product,” Chris explains.

For those with a sweet tooth, Lotito Foods developed a cannoli cream for a major restaurant chain planning on serving a menu item of pancakes rolled with cannoli cream. However, pancakes are served hot, which would melt traditionally prepared cream filling. Lotito Foods created a cream that doesn’t melt out when served with hot foods.

Their ongoing experimentation and creations of new recipes led to the invention of Folios Cheese Wraps, the first-ever 100% cheese wrap that went viral over a year ago.

“The creation began when a restaurant customer asked me if we could figure out how to ship Parmesan crisps, thin crackers made of cheese instead of wheat, to minimize breaking and crumbling of the product, which could result in a loss of 30 to 40% of the shipment. I realized that packing and shipping the crisps without breaking could be challenging,” explains Chris.

He developed a solution by subtly altering the sheet of Parmesan crisp’s culinary creation process by removing the sheet of Parmesan crisp halfway through the cooking. This kept the crisp flexible so restaurants could finish up the process by merely microwaving for a minute to crisp into the desired shape. This led to the creation of Folios Cheese Wraps, a consumer-ready cheese wrap that can be used as the bread for a Wrap or easily molded and crisped into 100% cheese bowls, taco shells, and other fun culinary shapes.

Folios Cheese Wraps became a national sensation with the tagline, “Creativity Awaits.” These natural lactose- and gluten-free, low carb 100% cheese wraps have exploded in popularity, especially with the low-carb keto-diet community. With only 1 gram of carbs per serving, the wraps are an excellent source of protein and calcium, with no additives or preservatives. Available in Parmesan, Cheddar, or Jarlsberg flavors, folios are recipe-ready (cheesefolios.com) to crisp, wrap, roll, or melt that can replace bread and is versatile paired with other foods.

Lotito Foods began as a cheese company but expanded to offering solutions for cheese, dairy, and other products. The company has become a source to acquire international foods such as long-stem marinated artichokes, Calabrian peppers, biscotti, and international cheeses.

Today Lotito Foods is recognized as offering innovation along with great taste and easy-to-make economical meals for restaurants, food service, retailers, and consumers. For additional recipes, photos and  to learn more or find a retailer or supplier, visit www.lotitofoods.com or www.cheesefolios.com