Anthony & Sons Bakery got its start in the 1960s when Anthony Dattolo, just a decade after emigrating from Sicily, embarked on a bakery career in Brooklyn.

Not long after, he moved to New Jersey with his wife, Rosalia, to raise a family that included sons Baldo and Joseph, who joined forces with their father in 1984 to create Anthony & Sons Italian Bakery. 

That same company, which started in a 3,000-square-foot-space, now operates out of a state-of-the-art 65,000-square-foot production facility in Denville, New Jersey, where it bakes a wide variety of artisan breads, traditional sandwich rolls, subs, loaf breads and more for national customers.

“The artisan bread category is continuously growing in the industry, and we believe focusing on trends most important to consumers and delivering unique options gives us the edge,” says Ben Rizzitello, vice president of sales and marketing. “As a partner to our customers it is our responsibility to introduce new items to the instore buyer and expose them to the premium product we are offering at store level. Our goal is to ensure every shopper is taking home our product for their family and friends to enjoy.”

Frozen for fresh

Anthony & Sons serves a nationwide customer base with their frozen bread line and thaw-and-sell products

Major supermarket partners across the country are able to benefit from the company’s freezer-to-oven products, Rizzitello says. The easy-to-bake products are ideal in today’s market, he adds, where skilled labor is hard to find and labor hours are continually reduced in instore bakery settings.

“Our products are designed to perform where a part-time associate can deliver fresh hot breads on demand at any time, eliminating all the issues that come with proof-and-bake products,” he says. The company says its freezer-to-oven breads help retailers keep the excitement and aroma of hot breads baked instore. Smaller retailers can utilize the hours they would have spent proofing and baking in other areas, like gourmet pastries and special cake orders.

“When using our freezer to oven products, our customers realize that there is no longer a need for a night setup, extra refrigerator storage, and an excessive amount of baking racks,” Rizzitello says. “They can now monitor their sales more closely, reducing waste by more than 50% because the stores are not on automatic bake.  They also experience an increase in sales because the product is fresher throughout the day and they can bake on demand.”

Production capabilities

Producing artisan breads— both fresh and frozen — to scale isn’t always a walk in the park.

“Many challenges arise when developing niche items, from over-gassing doughs to temperature and proofing issues,” Rizzitello says. “The most important ingredient is time and temperature. Keeping a controlled environment and consistently monitoring our doughs helps deliver optimum results.”

Anthony & Sons does this in their Denville production facility, which is designed to manufacture artisan products, as well as traditional breads and rolls the old-world way, from the mixing process to handling and baking. 

The production plant has two sides, he says — a handcrafted side and an automated side. The handcrafted side features a stone oven and areas where breads are hand-rolled and scored.

“There is nothing like having clean label handcrafted breads in the instore bakery department,” Rizzitello says. “The old-world look is what customers are looking for when shopping for bread products, as opposed to cookie-cutter automation.”

Meanwhile, on the automated side, where breads are still hand-scored,Rizzitello says the company’s capability is second-to-none. In addition to the stone oven, the company uses three tunnel ovens, a triple-deck oven, three cooling systems and an packaging and slicing line that gives it the capability to continuously take on new business.

But all that equipment doesn’t work as well without the right ingredients, Rizzitello says, recalling the company’s motto of ‘Hand Crafted From our Family to Yours.’

“We source out the highest quality ingredients available, consistently testing our flour’s protein and ash levels, making sure our blend delivers a premium product. We hold the highest standards with clean label and use no preservatives or artificial coloring” he says. “We also take our artisan sours a step further by making our own poolish, which is a type of sponge fermented over a period of 15 to 18 hours before it’s added to the dough. This delivers the highest quality in flavor and texture in our products.”

Growing for the future

Anthony & Sons maintains its own fleet of 50-plus delivery vehicles, which can take fresh baked breads to customers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

“In addition to our foodservice and retail production, we also manufacture products to distribute fresh daily,” Rizzitello says. “Using our own fleet in the Northeast region gives us the flexibility we need to get the product to our customers before they open for that day’s business.”

While that fresh capability is vital, the company also says it is seeing more instore bakeries move toward their freezer-to-oven breads and rolls program. 

Rizzitello says he has been seeing more instore bakeries looking for old world style and higher-quality products. Healthier baked goods, unique shapes and flavors, and easy product handling are the way of the future, he says.

“Our heat-and-serve and freezer-to-oven line is growing rapidly. We’re excited for our expansion and look forward to becoming one of the major bread and roll manufacturing suppliers in the industry,” Rizzitello says.