Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Papa Dio: `The Italian Col. Sanders'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Papa Dio: `The Italian Col. Sanders'

Article excerpt

By Darrell Morrow

Feature Editor

"Papa Dio" has a fierce pride in his accomplishments and a desire to leave his mark from a lifetime as a restaurateur on the culinary world.

That is why the 63-yeard has been nicknamed "The Italian Col. Sanders" by friends.

William F. "Bill" Bonadio Sr., who uses the pseudonym of "Papa Dio" in his culinary endeavors, worked with his father in the restaurant business in his early years and has since operated three restaurants of his own. He even started his own drive-in restaurant business at age 19, and naturally became an Army mess sergeant after being drafted for the Korean War.

Bonadio now is retired from his last restaurant business _ having turned Papa Dio's Italian Pantry at 10712 N. May Ave. over to son Bill Bonadio Jr. three years ago _ and is starting a new business.

He kept the one sacred thing with which no selfspecting Italian restaurateur would easily part _ his version of the Bonadio family's guarded secret pasta sauce recipe.

"Papa Dio" won't reveal the secret, but he is willing to share the product of that recipe, bottled fresh as "Papa Dio's Gourmet Pasta Sauce," with the world, or as many in the world as he can reach.

"I want to leave a legacy," Bonadio said.

"I even made my son sign a nonsclosure agreement to use the recipe. You know, business is business," he said.

He is displaying two versions of that secret pasta sauce recipe, "Thick Red" and "Thick Red with Mushrooms," in the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Made in Oklahoma exhibit in the State Fair of Oklahoma Made in Oklahoma Building.

Those who have previously frequented his restaurant and others have bought about 10 cases a day from his booth during his introductory display of the new products.

The first batch of his pasta sauce packed for consumer purchase, 3,000 cases, was produced under his strict supervision by the Griffin Food Co. of Muskogee in late July. He wouldn't allow the production crew to start without him there to supervise every step, he said.

His marketing goals are no less stringent than his production supervision.

"My goal is to be in the top two or three manufacturers of pasta sauces in the next two and a half to three years, and I don't think there is going to be a problem," he said, without blinking.

"That sauce is an old recipe that I have been using 35 to 40 years. I made all of my sauce recipes. I've got the "Thick Red" and the "Thick Red with Mushrooms" out now. We buy all of our mushrooms fresh from J M Farms of Miami, Okla., so we are keeping the business in the state. They are picked fresh the same day as they go in the sauce.

"We do it the old fashioned way. We work hard to do it right. The end result is what tells you that. I oversee the production, and as long as I live and breathe, that sauce is going to be done like that. …

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