photography by Mackenzie Frank
Twenty-five years ago, regional residents were saddened to learn that Russo’s Ravioli would close after more than 50 years of serving handmade Italian fare.
The Russo family continued catering private events until 2014, when patriarch Sam passed away, leaving the business briefly in flux. That’s when Sam’s daughter, Diane Jennings, and her son, Garrison, embarked on a mission to revive the brand—with a slight twist: Russo’s would now offer its signature ravioli for families to prepare and enjoy at home.
The duo’s gourmet cheeses, meats, pasta, and sauces were warmly received by Madison’s at Findlay Market, Ebert’s Meats in Newport, and various local farmers’ markets. (Italian food lovers can also shop online at RussosRavioli.com.)
With recipes spanning four generations, Jennings says quirkiness is one prime ingredient. “Our cheese tells a story all by itself,” she says. “The original mix includes American cheese, because that was easy to get during World War II. It stuck, and people just love it, so we’ve kept it the same.”
But Jennings isn’t opposed to change; she’s added butternut squash and mushroom to the ravioli variations.
Jennings works full-time as a nurse and entrusts most of the day-to-day operations to her son. Under Garrison’s leadership, the business is eyeing new strategic partnerships with retailers like Jungle Jim’s International Market, as well as an eventual brick-and-mortar presence. “That will hopefully happen in the next two years, if everything falls into place,” says Garrison.
In the meantime, the pair are grateful to Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen manager Rachel DesRochers for providing Russo’s Ravioli with a home base for food preparation. “Rachel has been wonderful,” Jennings says. “None of this would be possible without her help.”
Find it at:
Ebert’s Meat Market, Newport, KY; Madison’s at Findlay Market; Vonderhaar’s Market; Ohio Valley Food Connection; Loveland, Madeira, and West Chester farmers’ markets
Hannah is a graduate of NKU's political science program and a freelance creative who writes extensively about development in Greater Cincinnati. She doesn't like to fly, but she loves to travel. Her favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Love in the Time of Cholera.