Penn State Student Finds Success Through Pasta Sauce Company

Marinara, vodka, and tomato basil sauces, oh my! Penn State student Marcella Marino cooked up MarRosa’s Old World Cuisine at the beginning of 2021, started taking preorders in February, and has been selling her products in stores since May.

Marino, who is a senior studying Corporate Innovation Entrepreneurship, credits her interest in starting the business to her love of Italian food, the knowledge gained from her major, and her family.

“When classes went online because of the pandemic, I had so much extra time, so I was like, ‘I might as well start it now.’ So, I contacted a ton of manufacturers, and here we are,” said Marino.

Marino’s dad works in the food business as a distributor and brings products from Italy to grocery shelves here in the United States. The relationship with the food industry through her dad has been a huge help in growing Marino’s business. Today, he distributes MarRosa sauces to grocery stores around her hometown.

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to own my own business, and I just love food. I’m a foodie,” said Marino.

As much as Marino loves cooking with her sauces, making MarRosa’s Old World Cuisine for 50 stores across Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania is no small task, so she outsources the manufacturing.

Courtesy of Marcella Marino

To get more involved, Marino has participated as a vendor at farmers’ markets and harvest festivals in her hometown. For a recent harvest festival, Marino and her mother cooked about 18 pounds of pasta in her kitchen to serve.

From her time as a student paired with the help of her parents to manage orders and distribution, Marino has been learning a lot about owning a food business throughout the journey of MarRosa’s Cuisine.

Marino is currently taking a management course with Dr. Jeanette Miller, who’s been huge in helping her manage MarRosa’s Old World Cuisine.

“The professor is our mentor, and she’s just showing up different parts of campus that like help us with our business like the media commons, different people that will help with taxes, the LLC, and trademarks,” said Marino.

Even with graduation on the horizon, Marino is not ready to give up MarRosa’s Old World Cuisine. She wants to balance her business with another job so she can get more exposure to what she majored in. Marino is a busy woman, but she still finds joy and gratitude in the business she has grown.

“Some people have come up to me and said ‘Oh, you’re the sauce girl. I saw you in that one magazine,’ or something like that. It’s funny because sometimes I forget that I own a business. It hasn’t clicked yet,” Marino said.

Courtesy of Marcella Marino

After launching her business and growing it significantly in just months, Marino advises any aspiring entrepreneur not to wait.

“There will never be a perfect time,” she said. “You’ve just got to go for it.”

Marino and her business are moving full steam forward with no end in sight. She wants to expand her product line and start offering pizza sauces, pasta, olive oils, and pestos. Additionally, Marino hopes to bring MarRosa’s Old World Cuisine to stores here in State College.

You can learn more about MarRosa’s Old World Cuisine (and find out where you can get some sauce) on her website.

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About the Author

Mackenna Yount

Mackenna is a junior food science major from Manitou Springs, Colorado, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She loves food, is addicted to coffee, and can give you random facts or bad jokes that you didn't ask for. Ask her to bake gluten-free goodies so she has an excuse to try out new cupcake flavors. Mackenna can be contacted via Twitter @mackennayount (especially if you want to show off your best dad jokes) or you can shoot her an email at [email protected].

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