Bavaro’s Founder, Dan Bavaro is passionate about family, pizza, pasta, sauce and all things Italian. Moving to Tampa from New Jersey in 2008, Bavaro was seeking a change of pace. He had sold a successful transportation business and was looking to open an authentic Italian restaurant. He looked at several cities including Miami, but decided that Tampa was a “city on the up-rise, and a great place to raise a family.” Dan packed up his family, now five children strong, ages 2 -10, to follow his dream.
He and his wife, Anna-Maria, invested in a building at the corner of Franklin Street and Twiggs Ave. in downtown Tampa. They spent the next year designing and creating a quaint restaurant with just under 50 seats. The floors are from Italy and the bricks were salvaged and shipped from Chicago. The ambiance is reminiscent of a small, neighborhood cafe in Italy. The restaurant opened under the original name Pizzaiolo Bavaro in March 2009. Last September, Bavaro re-branded the restaurant with just his last name, Bavaro's, to be consistent with his new business venture — a line of gourmet pasta sauces.
Bavaro’s patrons began requesting the sauces almost immediately. They wanted to recreate the delicious pasta meals at home! Bavaro had his hands full running the restaurant, however one day a large catering event fell through and Anna-Maria suggested bottling the extra sauce! Conjuring memories of his grandmother’s kitchen from his childhood, Bavaro began bottling his first batch of sauce. That was over 4 years ago and now Bavaro’s has a line of Italian specialty sauces including Pomodoro, Marinara, and Arrabbiata with distribution in more than 500 stores throughout the United States. Bavaro’s sauces can be found at Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Costco and many other fine retailers.
In 2012, Bavaro was invited to participate in the Celebrity Lounge at the Emmy Awards. During this event they cooked and provided the Bavaro’s line of pasta sauces to some of the world’s biggest celebrities! Many of the celebrities who tasted the sauces continue to order today!
“I suppose the launch of this new venture was coincidence, or just meant to be. Our first two years was an endless amount of effort as our four man team, brother Mike, Chef Evan and longtime friend Gary and I hustled endless hours cooking, pouring, lidding, labeling and boxing all by hand in our small restaurant on our days off. My wife and five kids would cut the labels and stamp the dates prior to Gary and me applying them onto the jars at midnight. When we launched the line of sauce in August 2010, Gary was transitioned into sales. This meant he slept on my son’s bunk bed while my family was on vacation to be in close proximity to retail stores to fight for shelf space! With the hard work of family and friends, along with tremendous support from Tampa Bay businesses and residents a local mom and pop business is becoming a nationally recognized brand. We truly appreciate the support we have received from our families, friends and patrons!”