A family affair, Roma Sausage cherishes tradition

Made in Maryland

Made in Maryland is a monthly segment by ABC 2's Cassie Carlisle, showcasing local unsung trades. If you know a company fitting this description email Cassie.Carlisle@wmar.com.

It's a comfort food that transports you to Italy. For one man, it takes him back to his childhood.

After all these years, making sausage has remained a family affair.

Roma Sausage has pumped out links since 1963, originally by a man named Joe Masotti.

He started making the savory links to feed his friends, and from there turned into a business owner.

In it's first days, the business resembled a warm, neighbor's home, as it was literally in a row home, in Highlandtown.

Original Location, Courtesy: Roma Sausage

"It was like a sweat shop 15 people working, everything was done by hand, elbow to elbow, the links would come out and they would rope it by hand." - Al Pecora, Owner of Roma Sausage.

An image sending Al Pecora back to his childhood in Italy.

"I remember as a kid my uncles and my dad used to make sausage, only once a year,  in January, because it was the time of the year when the pig was big enough to slaughter," Al Pecora.

Sausages freshly cased and segmented.

Pecora remembers the activity as a fun time with family.

While the tradition changed when they moved to the states, one thing remained true, they never strayed from food.

Pecora was 12 years old.

His family opened three restaurants all over Maryland, run by his father.

"He was using Roma products so already back then, I really believed they were the best sausages made in Maryland," -Pecora said.

Pecora grew within the business, starting out as a bus boy as a teen. Then he worked his way up to making pizza dough.

He said one of their locations was next to Memorial Stadium, and they had a large window where he would toss the dough. He loved entertaining sports fans.

As a young man in his 20s Pecora was a guest at a large distillery in Italy, where they produced wine and grappa.

He was recruited to sell their wine, which he enjoyed for 30 years, travelling all over the world. Then, he started thinking of retirement.

He decided instead to take hold of his roots, and bought Roma Sausage.

Roma Sausage label on employee jackets.

Just like it was back in Italy, Pecora's kids are working with him elbow to elbow.

"Family members do care more about what we do, or don't do and it's working very well for us," Pecora said.

Everywhere you look in the business, you see either a relative or close family friend.

His son created every label that appears on their product, he's their "marketing guru" according to Pecora, and runs their social media platforms.

Product labels at Roma Sausage

His other son, Justin, is the General Manager, and his third son Sergio, handles all the food service sales.

Jeff Kief is their Regional Sales Manager, and Pecora's wife's cousin.

Sergio said not only do they work closely in the business, his immediate family lives in the same neighborhood.

Roma Sausage employee mixing spices to flavor the meat.

Together they make food families all over Maryland are sure to adore, like the Natty Bo Bratt, or the Old Bay Sausage.

Pecora infused his wine expertise, creating a brand new product, called the Prosecco Chicken Sausage, flavored with the beloved Italian white wine.

All the while adding love to the recipe, like original Chef Massotti.

Roma's Old Bay Sausage

Today they're in a warehouse off I-95 and Eastern Avenue, a couple miles from the original location, with lots of room to grow.

Both owners with this in common, their dedication to our state.

"Maryland is probably the greatest state in the world to live, because of the four seasons," Pecora said.

Made right here in Maryland, a true family tradition we can all be a part of.

Roma Sausage's warehouse in Dundalk

Fun Fact: Roma Sausage is the only sausage sold at Camden Yards.