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All Things Loomis

Local Self-Taught Baker is Rising to the Top. Here’s How the Carife Ravioli Company Started--and Where It’s Going Next

Mar 12, 2019 01:58PM ● By Melissa Emerzian
J.P. Greco quite vividly remembers the smell, taste, and rise of the very first loaf of bread he baked- absolutely delicious and as flat as pita bread! Although the aesthetics were disappointing, the taste was amazing. It was with perseverance and trial-and-error that Greco developed his signature recipe for the perfect loaf. Within 2 years, J.P. Greco turned his artisan bread baking into a home microbakery business, Carife Ravioli Company. While the term microbrewery is familiar to most, microbakery is likely a new term to many. As the prefix ‘micro’ suggests, the difference between a microbakery and bakery is a matter of scale. He is the sole baker who bakes before and after he works his day job, making 60-100 loaves of bread a week. There are no large machines in Greco’s house, rather, each delicious loaf is handcrafted in small batches using 5-year-old sourdough starter, quality organic flour from Petaluma, water and salt. Greco is crafting bread the traditional way, with wild yeast rather than the convenient and familiar commercial “instant” yeasts.  You might be asking what the big deal is- do a little research, and you’ll uncover the myriad health benefits of wild yeast. 

What About the Ravioli? 
As for the name Ravioli, while the bread is the ‘bread and butter’ of the company, Greco’s initial plan was to make raviolis. Unfortunately, stuffed pasta such as ravioli produced for selling to the public, requires a commercial kitchen. However, Greco was able to bake and sell bread under a Cottage Food Operators license, which allows for foods from a state approved-list to be made in private homes and sold to the public. So, while you can enjoy bread from the Carife Ravioli Company, in order to experience the pasta, you will have to make friends with Greco and be invited over to his house for a family dinner. This is not as unlikely as it may sound, given Greco’s love of community. 

Italian Roots 
The first part of the microbakery’s name Carife, refers to the small community in the Campania region of Italy. It is the birth place of his grandfather, who later immigrated to the United States. The company’s logo also represents Greco’s Italian heritage. Look closely at the top and you will see the bird and sun are from the family key stone in his grandfather's village. He was born in that house and if you visit, you'll see the key stone above the front door. The number 38 on the bottom of the logo is the house number. Cooking and baking played a central role in the life of his family, and the love was passed down from his father to him. Greco’s calls upon his Italian roots to bring our community savory delights in the traditional Italian artisan style. Greco and his wife also travel to Europe and base their excursions on culinary delights first, hitting the local bakeries, and then tourist attractions. 

Keeping it Local 
Greco’s local community is here in Placer County. He was born and raised in the area and attended Colfax High School. His parents were local teachers. Greco and his wife, parents, and siblings continue to live in and around Loomis because of the environment offered in our small community, “Every day I see someone that I know and that is one of the reasons why I love living in this community,” Greco stated. Where can we buy Carife Ravioli bread? While this may be the first time you have heard of Carife Ravioli Company, you most likely have enjoyed Greco’s breads if ever you have had the culinary pleasure of eating the cheese panini, muffuletta, or a sandwich at the Gander Taphouse. Currently, almost the entirety of his bread production goes to the Gander. The biggest challenge for Greco is figuring out how to stay a unique, niche bakery and also make his bread directly available to residents. As such, Greco is bringing his bread to the Casque Winery tasting room this Thursday-Sunday, March 14th-17th from 11am-5pm.  Amongst possible offerings include his sourdough rounds, olive bread, and perhaps a blended country loaf.  I know I will be there...butter in hand.