Farm to Factory Tour of Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes

[Photographs: Kelly Bone]

Chris Bianco insists Bianco DiNaopli tomatoes are not the best, but that they are special in a world full of special tomatoes. That no matter where you are, the "best tomato" is the closest one; reflecting the finest qualities of the land. In Italy the San Marzano stands out, on the East Coast there is an audible heartbreak when Jersey tomato season ends, and in California's Central Valley, the tomato is a way of life. When Chris met third generation Californian tomato canner Rob DiNapoli, it set into play a product that accentuates the richness of this region, neatly sealed inside a #10 can.

20121002-224812-Bianco DiNapoli-Body 1.jpg

Our Players: Cliff Fong, Chris Bianco and Rob DiNapoli

The relationship began nine years ago when Rob DiNapoli attempted to drop off samples at Pizzeria Bianco. Marco Bianco told him that simply wouldn't do. Chris wants to see and understand the person behind his sources. So the next night, Rob snagged the seat closest to the oven and engaged Chris in what turned out to be a four year conversation.

Chris, who was using an Italian imported San Marzano at the time, was not convinced by conventional farming and canning methods to switch to a domestic brand. He sought a tomato unique to the market, particularly with a full commitment to organic. Years of running his own cannery equipped Rob with the skills to not just sell a better tomato, but to bring Chris' vision to fruition. Fours years after their first meeting, an organic plum tomato farming opportunity arose with farmer Cliff Fong's (whose gorgeous polenta had already captured Chris' attention years before), and a chance for artisanal organic canning materialized. It took Chris less than 48 hours to book a flight to California's Central Valley; and so, Bianco DiNapoli was born. [Editor's note: Read about the release here.]

Bianco DiNapoli is committed to accountability; offering transparency into the land, makers and philosophy of the brand... exactly what Chris sought 9 years ago when Rob tried to drop off samples. Today, they are making a tomato that is, by their own high standards, the very best reflection of Central Valley.

In early September, the third season of this already beloved tomato was harvested. I was fortunate enough to be there and share a behind the scenes look at what is poised to be their best production to yet. Take a virtual tour by clicking through the slideshow!