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Canevari’s: New Blood for Old School Italian Ravioli Factory

Author: | posted 01/23/12 | Print This Post Print This Post |

Attilio and ed Canevari

From the window of Canevari’s Ravioli Factory and Deli, Ed Canevari has watched the history of Santa Rosa unfold over three generations.

But after decades of pounding dough and breathing flour in the ravioli room of his family business he’s ready to pass on the torch. “I need some new blood,” he said. “We want to get back to the level of energy and service we had 20 years ago.”

Now in his 70′s, the local icon is turning over management of the historic italian-American business to Michael Coutre, a local investor who hopes breathe new life into the nearly 100-year-old businesses. His own kids, he claims, aren’t interested in the grinding work of the family factory.

Growing up in the two-bedroom house behind the Lewis Road business, Canevari had a front seat to the development of Santa Rosa — from fields to, well, strip malls and subdivisions. He spins tales of war prisoners working the hop fields off Chanate Road, spins yarns about the humble beginnings of Charlie Traverso (a friend of his dad’s) and will give you an earful about some of the city’s seamier moments (if he thinks you deserve to hear them.) Mention any local luminary of his generation, and his face is an instant read on whether they’re a paisono. Or not.

Canevari also loves to show newcomers a grainy black and white picture on the wall of he and his father. Just 18-months old, he’s dressed in a white apron and hat miming his father, Attillio. “I always liked to copy him,” said Canevari.

That kind of local history can’t be bought for any price. Which is why Coutre isn’t planning on revamping the closely-held traditions of the Canevari’s operation. “We are custodians of a legacy,” said Coutre, who was persistent in his desire to work with Canevari, despite a number of brush-offs by the septugenarian. “Ed has entrusted his lifetime of work to us. Why go in and change that?”

To help with the plan, Coutre hired two hospitality veterans — South Bay restaurant GM John Foss, and assistant Foppiano winemaker and budding pastry chef Chris Bertsche¬† — to start learning the business from Canevari and his staff and provide extra manpower in the last several months. Moving forward, he plans to ramp up ravioli-making and get the products back in local stores (currently they are only available at the deli). Staff will also be offering more catering services and Coutre hopes to add ready-made dinner offerings and authentic Italian staples as part of the deli’s offerings.


But don’t expect the senior Canevari to fade into history. He’s retained ownership of the shop, and as keeper of the family recipes, he’s adamant that the newcomers do things the right way — his father’s way — using fresh, local ingredients. Pointing to his family name on the sign outside the factory, he said, “That’s always going to be my named on the sign up there.”

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17 Responses

  1. Hunter Quistgard February 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    My father loved Attilla’s raviolis and we used to take them home when I was 9. Eddie was in my class at S.R. High, so he mussah bean 9 tu. It was class of ’55, the last when there was only one hi school. I always trine buy sum wen I’m in town, but many times the place is not open when I can get by. If they turn out to bean stores again, isle git morn eye used tu.

    • beth April 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      Learn how to spell.

  2. Missy February 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Ok, so what about the Traverso’s people? Where are they? Where are we supposed to shop for Italian foods now? I’m desperate, I understand there’s an Italian grocery somewhere in Napa (??) is it? I really need my Italian store.

  3. Scooter January 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    If you are going to run things Ed’s way you need to adopt the position that women are second class, learn to talk down to and degrade them.

  4. Debbie January 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    We had their ravioli’s at our wedding 30 years ago!! They are the best!!

  5. Logan Bello January 27, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    My mom and dad had their ravioli’s at their wedding reception almost 25 years ago! I am a huge fan of this place. Love their ravioli’s. Happy to hear that the Canevari tradition will live on so that I can maybe have them at my wedding too when I’m older.

  6. Leon LaFontaine January 27, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    The store looked like it was owned by a senile old aunt or somebody who was stuck in the 50′s.Driving by one day about 15 years ago I stopped for a sandwich, and Eddie threw it together along with a few wisecracks about how good his food was. Because of the appearance of the store and the continual meat loaf sandwich sign, I failed to be inticed back there ever again.

  7. what's cookin' with kate January 27, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Amazing, after 20 years of driving by, I finally stopped two weeks ago and purchased some ravioli! Tasty, although a bit old school on the doughy side for me who doesn’t eat the white boys often (flour, rice, potato, etc) Hubby loved them!

  8. Mark January 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Wow…I always thought their sandwiches were the LOW point Beccy..I mean, they’ve had the same sign in the window proclaiming “Sandwich of the day: meatloaf” for like 25 years lol

    • olItalian January 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

      The meatloaf sandwich was actually pretty good. It wasn’t meatloaf everyday, changed to turkey, tuna, etc., but many days of the week it was. It actually tasted like they baked some of the meat ravioli filling in the shape of a meatloaf which is why they offered it so often. Darn near the same ingredients! Does anyone remember the ravioli store on Stony Point Rd. in the 60′s? Those were the best ravioli’s I’ve ever had!! The unfortunate thing about mass producing ravioli’s is that you have to use cheap fillers to make any money or you have to charge an arm and a leg! Just my two cents……..

  9. ChuckVan January 24, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    I was like a few of the responders up until a year or so ago. Friends had the deli cater a group gathering of singers one afternoon. It was a great success, and the food was excellent. The next week I headed on down to try their ravioli. Great flavors and the pasta cooks up easily. Just another great food find in Santa Rosa.

  10. Shirleen January 23, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    I have known Ed Canevari and his family (Dino)since I was a little kid and eventually I worked there when I was 18. Ed is a one of a kind and a great part of Santa Rosa. I love his stories!

  11. Laha January 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    On my way!!

  12. Igor January 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    I’ve driven by dozens of times….always wondering, and YES never taking the time to stop. I remember well when you could buy their raviolis at Safeway….and Raviolis are my all time favorite. It used to be our special Friday evening dinner treat…….I’ll be there next time I get into Santa Rosa guaranteed !!!

  13. Christian January 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    I’m really glad you wrote about this, I always drive by there and I’m not sure if it’s any good or not. I love fresh pasta there o’s nothing like it. I’m gonna stop in and check it out.

  14. Jay January 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Good news that they are staying open, and trying to get the Ravs back into stores.
    To the new guys coming in, please don’t change the Ravioli recipe!
    it sounds like they will leave them the same, but I’ve seen other places that have gone through this, and in the end, changed the things they promised not to.
    Love your Ravioli’s !

  15. Beccy January 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I love their sandwiches!!!! One of the best sandwich deli’s in the area!!

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