For nearly a century, LaMonica Fine Foods has maintained a steadfast commitment to quality. From the family businesses initial start in Brooklyn, to the shores of Cape May and now in Millville, New Jersey, quality has been their tradition and the family’s commitment remains as strong today as the day their story began.
In 1923, Peter LaMonica and his wife, Mary opened a small seafood shop in Brooklyn that specialized in fresh, locally caught seafood. As the demand for fresh seafood increased, Peter saw an opportunity to meet the needs of his customers by expanding into the fishing business. As the business grew, family came to work in the shop, which after the Second World War, had grown into a thriving fish market. Peter and Mary’s children, sons, Salvatore and Anthony and daughter, Virginia worked in the market, as did Peter’s cousin Nicholas. Soon after, Cape May Foods was formed to process high-quality seafood products for the retail and restaurant trades.
In 2000, Cape May Foods began the transition to a larger, newer facility in Millville, New Jersey. By 2005, the relocation was complete. During this time, the company officially became LaMonica Fine Foods, honoring the tradition of quality begun by Peter and Mary 82 years earlier. Donato LaVecchia, Peter and Mary’s son-in-law, had joined the business many years ago and now his two sons, Michael and Daniel are the owners of LaMonica Fine Foods. Daniel’s daughter, Danielle LaVecchia, is the company’s sales manager, ensuring that the great tradition of family established nearly a century ago by Mary and Peter LaMonica will continue through the fourth generation and beyond.
LaMonica Fine Foods is a huge bustling seafood supplier. In addition to being the largest hand-shucking plant with more than 250 employees, it maintains a state-of-the art canning facility as well as a fleet of refrigerated trailers and fourteen fishing boats. In the business community, this is known as vertical integration. At LaMonica Fine Foods, controlling each aspect from the sea to the final can was the best way to ensure that its products would always be of the highest quality. The company is renowned for their products and envied by their competitors for their clams, perhaps the best canned clams available – anywhere. All of the clams are caught in the pristine waters of the Atlantic Ocean, then landed, processed and packed at the New Jersey facility.
La Monica also sells fresh canned clams and seafood products to many national restaurant chains and retailers. In addition to their company brands, LaMonica also has private labeled products for many nationally recognized brands.
As mechanized and technological features permeate our lives, there are still many industries that rely upon a hands-on approach in the most literal sense. It starts with the sea. The fishing fleet is operated by a sister company of LaMonica Fine Foods, based out of the Atlantic City area, less than one hour from the Millville plant. All of the clams are wild caught off the Atlantic coast. The company’s commercial harvesting of the Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Clam began in the 1970s. The former are found in waters at relatively shallow depth, while the latter, also known as the Quahog, takes place at a much deeper depth of up to 240 feet below the waves. It is a labor intensive process, yet the fleet meets the stringent requirements of a sustainable fishery in the harvesting of these clams. This means that the company actively meets the national standards for the U.S. Fishery Management Plan, adopted to ensure clam stocks are maintained and that overfishing is eliminated.
Once the clams reach the plant, the largest hand-shucking facility in the U.S., they are processed within 24 hours, allowing the company to provide the most tender, tasty clams you can find, short of catching them yourself.
Producing the highest quality seafood over the course of three generations does not happen by accident. LaMonica Fine Foods’ commitment to quality is evident in each and every one of their products, but so much is necessary behind the scenes. In addition to aspect of sustainability, ensuring that future generations will enjoy the same delicious clams from the waters off New Jersey, the company’s highly-rated food safety and quality assurance programs are the result of well-established and well-executed systems.
Once the clams have been transported to the Millville plant, the labor-intensive process continues. Each clam must be hand-shucked, cleaned and inspected. Once the clam meat is extracted from the shell, they are then washed and hand-inspected. The processing has really only just begun at this stage. The clams need to be chopped to specifications and then there will be two more stages of cleaning, with an additional inspection in between. The clams that have passed the second inspection then move to the canning phase where they are canned, labeled and then made ready for shipment. In all, it is a well-orchestrated ballet, where each step is dedicated to providing two essential ingredients that separate LaMonica Fine Foods from other producers of clams and scungilli – the highest quality products and greatest freshness. Their products include Chopped Clams, Gourmet Clam Juice, Italian-style White and Red Clam Sauce, Sea Clam Juice, Original Scungilli and Petite Scungilli. After 96 years of operation, the brand name provides exactly what its customers from coast to coast already know – LaMonica and Fine Foods are inseparable.
You can find LaMonica Scungilli and Clam products in your favorite food store or larger retailers.
Most of you recall growing up and recognizing the blue and white little round can of scungilli in your mother’s cabinet.
Remember LaMonica this Christmas Eve and make that scungilli salad!