NUTLEY, NJ - Nutleyite Domenick Scutti knows the secrets to growing the largest tomatoes in Nutley and he’s not spilling the beans.
At the township’s annual Biggest Tomato and Zucchini Contest held Sunday, Aug. 11 at Nutley’s Farmers Market, Scutti is practically undefeated. He lost only once, in 2016 to resident Tom Orlinski out of the last seven years the contest has been running. This year, Orlinski tried to gain that title back with his 1-pound 9.9 ounce yellow and red heirloom. Scutti’s beefsteak weighed in at 2-pounds, 3.3 ounces.
Resident Joe Varela attempted to beat the champion too, however his tomato only weighed 1-pound, 7.5 ounces.
The largest zucchini was also awarded to now three time winner Charles Adornetto. Adornetto’s zucchini weighed in at 6-pounds, 4.8 ounces.
Nutley Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli awarded the winners with a Greenutley reusable tote bag. The prized fruit and vegetables were presented on plastic cutting boards, courtesy of the Greenutley Committee. “It’s great that we have people participating and showing off what they grew right here in Nutley. And it brings people to the farmers market,” he said.
Scutti now age 86, said it’s a “labor of love.” He claims there is no secret to growing giant tomatoes and he uses no chemicals to fertilize his soil. When asked how those giant tomatoes taste he said, “Unreal, delicious, better in gravy [tomato sauce].” He said he made 65 jars of sauce. “Can’t beat a fresh Jersey tomato,” he said.
Scutti saves his seeds each year for the next, keeping his winning fruits in the family. Other vegetable plants found in his garden include gagootz (slang for cucuzza), basil and hot peppers.
Adornetto, age 88, beat out 5 other entries this year, to make it his third win. This was not the biggest on record in Nutley however. Resident James Toomi still owns that title with his giant zucchini which weighed 9-pounds, 6.05 ounces in 2016.
His previous entrees were 6-pounds, 5.7 ounces (2017), and 9-pound, 2.2 ounce (2016). Last year Nutley’s first woman to win the largest zucchini contest was Rose Vezzossi with her zucchini weighing 6-pounds 2.2 ounces.
Adornetto said he doesn’t really know what his secret is to growing great zucchinis. Passion and patience, he said are important. He also said he doesn’t use any chemicals to help his plants along. “It’s organic, water and sun,” he said.
He also grows tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers in his garden.
For Scutti, he may have been the winner again this year, but he did not beat his own record of 2-pounds, 8.7 ounces, which he entered last year. 2019 and 2018 produced the largest tomatoes Scutti has grown in his own Nutley backyard. Previous years his entrees were 1-pound, 9.8 ounces (2017); 1-pound, 6.05 ounces (2016); 1-pound, 8.4 ounces (2015); 1 pound, 6.7 ounces (2014); and 1-pound, 9.46 ounces (2013).
In 2016, Scutti was defeated by Orlinski’s 1-pound, 6.35-ounces yellow and red heirloom tomato outweighing his by three ounces. Scutti hasn’t forgot 2016, claiming he had a 3-pound tomato he did not enter, which was instead used for sauce.
Meredith Blank of the Greenutley Committee said produce was welcome for donations at the market for the Nutley Family Service Bureau Food Pantry. A basket full of tomatoes and cucumbers was dropped off at the weigh-in table by an anonymous person. The committee accepts fresh produce donations bi-weekly and non-perishables weekly at the Farmers Market which is delivered to NFSB for distribution.
The Farmers Market is located at Municipal Lot # 9, the former Ciccolini Brothers parking lot, 537 Franklin Ave., and is open every Sunday, rain or shine, from 9 to 2 p.m. through Oct. 27.