2025 W Main St.
Salem, VA 24153

Learn the Story Behind the Sauce

The History of Italian Sauce Goes Back for Generations

This month, Mamma Marias is here to explain the story behind the sauce. On a Sunday afternoon, in any Italian-American home, the sweet smell of sauce fills your nostrils. With such a long cooking time, the sauce offers a rich flavor that families look forward to all week long. For as popular as the sauce is, you may wonder what goes into making it taste so good. Our staff is here to take you on a journey to learn the story behind the sauce.

Mamma Maria’s will dive into the origin story of Italian sauce, as well as the five classic sauces. Our passion for Italian food runs deep in our Salem, VA, restaurant. We pride ourselves on helping our customers understand the story behind the sauce, and creating the best atmosphere. Let us take you on a journey to learn about the story behind the sauce.

Every Story Starts with an Origin

Around the year 1500, explorers brought the first tomatoes to Italy. Upon their arrival, Italians were suspicious, and thought they were poisonous. In the 1700s, southern Italians served a meat-based sauce modeled after the meat stew of medieval times called: Ragú. They eventually got over their tomato suspicion in the late 1700s, and decided to give tomatoes a try. Francesco Leonardi, an innovative Roman chef, wrote about them in a cookbook, and the rest is history. He had no idea the impact his tomato usage would have on future generations.

Get to Know the Story Behind Five Classic Italian Sauces

With recipes and specialties passed on through generations, Italian sauce is a serious and storied business. Whether it’s a long-simmering ragú or a quickly made oil-based sauce, chefs make them using the finest ingredients. For the next segment of the story behind the sauce, let us give you a history of five classic sauces:


With an origination in Naples, this simple and sophisticated sauce contains a few ingredients. The ingredients include tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and extra-virgin olive oil. Chefs vigorously cook this sauce to retain the brightness and zest of the tomatoes.


Translated as the “Charcoal Makers’ Style,” Carbonara sauce carries the title of the Ultimate Rustic Sauce. Eggs, extra virgin olive oil, guanciale, salt, and pepper make up this luxuriously creamy tasting sauce. The secret to the creaminess doesn’t include cream at all. Instead, chefs usually toss all the cooked ingredients together with cheese, raw egg, and cooked pasta.

Ragu Alla Bolognese

Originating from Bologna, Italy’s most famous meat sauces consists of minced beef, pancetta, sauteed vegetables, and wine. This rich and hearty slow-cooked sauce dates all the way back to the 18th century.

Pesto Alla Genovese

This sauce’s distinct, vibrant green color naturally results from fresh, young basil leaves. The term “pesto” derives from the Genoese verb pestã, which means proud our crush. A blend of basil, crushed garlic, coarse salt, grated pine nuts, and grated cheese make up this sauce. This delicious sauce can add great flavor to everything from pasta to seafood to sandwiches.

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

The English translation for Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino is “garlic, oil, and chili pepper.” We know this sauce as the most essential pasta sauce. Originating in Naples, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino usually accompanies spaghetti and finely chopped parsley. Starchy pasta water helps emulsify and thicken the sauce.

Sauce and Pasta Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

The country of Italy is the homeland of the carb-filled food known as pasta. The average Italian eats about 23.5 kilograms of pasta per year. It’s no secret that Italians love their pasta and its delicious taste. Pasta pairs perfectly with all the sauces we listed above. Are you familiar with Italy’s most famous pasta shapes? Italianfoodexperts.com tells us the most popular pasta and how to eat them.

Experience Authentic Italian Sauce at Mamma Maria’s in Salem, VA

If you live in Salem, VA, and surrounding areas, come to Mamma Maria’s for a delicious authentic Italian cuisine. Our staff of dedicated and passionate professionals prides itself on creating the best atmosphere for your customers. We only use the freshest ingredients to make our sauce and every food item we provide to Salem, VA. Our customers in and around Salem, VA, love coming to our restaurant for a delicious email.

Mamma Maria’s prides itself on cooking delicious Italian food for residents in Salem, VA, and surrounding areas. If you are in the mood for some cuisine, come to Mamma Maria’s in Salem, VA. Check out our food menu to see what we have to offer.

To learn more about the story behind the sauce, call Mamma Maria’s in Salem, VA, at (540) 389-2848. You can also contact us online or email us. Feel free to like our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with promotions and other information. Visit Mamma Maria’s in Salem, VA, today to experience the story behind the sauce.