With the brand trademark of “It’s Italy in a Jar,” you’d better believe the expectations are set high for Nello’s Sauce. There are literally hundreds of jars to choose from at the grocery store, so how is this local business’ sauce going to stand out? Aside from the catchy name, their sauce more than delivers on its trademark promise. Made from real tomatoes, and never paste, the texture and taste already sets Nello’s ahead of the crowd.
Neal McTighe launched Nello’s Sauce in 2010 while he was living in Chapel Hill. Neal has Italian roots and studied and explored extensively in Italy. When he came back to the states, he yearned to keep a bit of Italy alive in his everyday life. He taught Italian in an academic realm, but he says, “I remember lying awake at night feeling unsatisfied with where I was. I wanted to create something that could form into a business. I started out with a blog about food, but this eventually turned into starting Nello’s Sauce.”
Neal enjoyed making sauce at home for friends and family, but didn’t know this was the direction the company would eventually go. He says, “I started out with the idea of making a frozen pizza. As I did my research, I realized it was not a practical direction to go in if I wanted to maintain and grow a business.”
Nello’s Sauce was literally born in Neal’s apartment. He was churning out jars of sauce in his ever-inspected kitchen. As homemade sauce was never manufactured in an apartment setting, he credits the inspectors to helping him understand and learn the process of how to take his product from sauce pot to labeled jars.
Neal is an intellectual person with great intentions that deliver through his product and the company’s actions. Neal says, “We’re committed to making a product that doesn’t have any junk in it. If you look at our ingredients, these are all things you or your family would use to make a sauce. Nello’s is not an industrial recipe, no grandmas make sauce like that.”
Nello’s is also a U.S. grown biodynamic sauce, the only sauce in the U.S. that can stake that claim. This is incredibly important to Neal, as he believes his gluten free and no added sugar sauces are truly the answer to home cooks who want a great jarred sauce, without compromising their health.
Continuing with Nello’s generosity and care for the community, they regularly donate pallets of sauce to our local food bank. Neal says, “We want to be a company that has philanthropy built into our infrastructure. We pass on the value of our sauce to the food bank to help create transparency of donating actual product. Every year we’ve been able to donate a little more sauce. This is exciting to see that as Nello’s Sauce grows, so is our ability to help out others.”
Neal credits a lot of their success to the internet and social media. He says, “It’s helped to build our brand and get our name out there. We’ve built trust with our customers and hope to continue to do so as we grow.” Nello’s Sauce is rapidly expanding and only continues to grow from its humble apartment kitchen beginning days. Neal remains optimistic for the future of Nello’s Sauce, especially with his great team of interns and staff. The three sauces on the market right now are Original All-Purpose Marinara, Fiery Hot & Spicy Arrabbiata and Signature Lavender. Neal hints that there is a special sauce to be released in the fall that has a sweet basil focus. Nello’s 3 sauces right now already have me scraping the jar for every last bit of saucy goodness, so I know the fourth will only have me doing the same.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @