The Scotto family, which runs Fresco by Scotto restaurant in New York City, recently launched a frozen food line with home delivery service Schwans—making the clan's homey Italian cuisine available to non-New Yorkers for the first time. You may know them from their frequent Today show appearances, but that doesn't mean the Scottos—Marion, Anthony Jr., Elaina, John and Rosanna—are immune to the bumps local restaurateurs can experience when they go national. Elaina Scotto reveals the biggest lessons the family has learned along the way.
1. Be diligent about quality control. "We're very hands on with the food," says Elaina, whose latest frozen offerings include Eggplant and Zucchini Pie and Lasagna with Meatball Sauce. "It takes us several months to develop a single product because we're constantly tasting and checking it's still good" at every step of the process.
2. Use social media. "It's all about Facebooking, Tweeting and friending people," she says. "It's huge. When we introduced new dishes for the frozen food line, we invited top bloggers to come and taste it. And they spread the word."
3. Don't say no. "We try to say yes to everything" in terms of publicity, says Elaina. "We did our first cookbook and that's how we got the Today show. And then 20 other people asked us to be on their shows. We're very fortunate."
4. Capitalize on what makes you unique. "We're a family that lives and works together, but we're very diverse," she says. (Elaina is a former fashion publicist, brother John is a former attorney, while sis Rosanna has been a Fox 5 News anchor in New York City since 1986.) "There are very few families on TV cooking together."
5. Be willing to try new things. "We fought social media for a long time," says Elaina. "Now we get it and know you have to do it. Maybe an app is something we'll do next."