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RAO'S Sauce in jar

Deb Aug 24, 1999 01:46 PM

Since it is not cheap I would like to know which is
the best and if it is worth the money. Thanks.

  1. s
    Sarah Groshong Jan 21, 2000 02:26 PM

    Who's to say what is the best? I love Rao's because I prefer a light marinara that doesn't obscure the taste of the food I serve it with. It is rather outrageously priced, however, and I am trying to duplicate it. The recipe is in their cookbook and if you don't want to spend the $40 to buy another Italian cookbook, do what I did and go to Barnes and Noble and copy it from the book!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sarah Groshong
      ahr Apr 2, 2000 01:52 PM

      I am amazed at the lukewarm responses to your post--I think Rao's sauce in a jar is INCREDIBLE. It is really really really good. Worth every single penny. I don't eat any sauce in a jar, only this one. They use San Marzano tomatoes, which are distinctively sweet and delicious. If you haven't tried it already, try it. You won't be sorry.

      1. re: ahr
        VT Sep 11, 2000 06:49 PM

        Where can I find the lowest price on RAO's? Online?
        Any suggestions?

    2. s
      Sid Berger Sep 29, 1999 04:00 PM

      I have dined at Rao's several times in the past and it was always a treat if you had lots and lots of patience.I have also tried the sauce and find it to be very ordinary and way overpriced. By contrast, Patsy's sauces are excellent although also rather expensive.
      Aunt Millie's at less than half the price is still a darn good bet!

      Sid Berger

      tovery ordinary and way overpriced. By contrast, the Patsy sauces ore excellent although also rather expensive,

      1. d
        Daniel Sonenberg Aug 24, 1999 04:05 PM

        I think the first sauce they came out with, the plain
        marinara, is really excellent. Definitely the best
        sauce I've ever bought in a store (including homemade
        sauces from specialty shops.) Once I tried one of their
        newer flavors and was particularly unimpressed. The
        marinara has a very full tomato flavor, a wonderful
        consistency, and is not acidic at all. Usually I have
        a hard time resisting eating spoonfuls of it while I'm
        waiting for the pasta water to boil. (This coming from
        someone who generally prefers to make his own tomato
        sauce - a damn good one).

        I have seen the 32 oz. jars for as little as $6.99 at
        Bed Bath and Beyond - they were running a special for a
        long time but I'm not sure if it's still going.
        Definitely don't pay more than $8.99 for it.

        Oh, and it beats the hell out of the jarred Patsy's
        sauce, which sells for the same price and sucks.

        On the lower-end market, I really have come to like
        Classico's red pepper tomato sauce. The other flavors
        I've tried of that line are not so enticing, however.

        Give Rao's a try!

        23 Replies
        1. re: Daniel Sonenberg
          jen kalb Aug 24, 1999 09:28 PM

          Cook's Magazine did a comparative testing of 'jarred"
          marinara-style tomato sauces in April. Rated
          "acceptable" (the only ones so rated)were Barilla,
          Five Brothers Tom and Basil, and Classico tomato and
          basil, all for under $2.50 or so. Raos at over $5 was
          the highest rated "not acceptable brand", with some
          testers comparing it to tomato soup or chef boyardee.
          Ive not tried it (why spend the extra money?) but
          recently have used both the barilla and five brothers
          brands quite a lot. While not quite as good as the
          best homemade sauce, they are a fine quick substitute,
          especially with the addition of a little olive oil
          warmed up with a garlic clove or two in it. Add some
          sauteed mushrooms, herbs or italian sausage, or maybe
          some diced sauteed pancetta and red pepper flakes, and
          they become terrific.

          1. re: jen kalb
            Daniel Sonenberg Aug 25, 1999 11:12 AM

            That Cook's report sounds pretty ridiculous. As I
            mentioned, I like the Classico red pepper/tomato sauce,
            but it's nowhere near Rao's marinara. Why spend the
            extra money? Because it's as close to homemade as
            you're going to get with peeling and seeding.


            1. re: Daniel Sonenberg
              jen kalb Aug 25, 1999 12:03 PM

              I can't state a personal opinion on the Raos sauce
              since I haven't tried it myself - nor will I at the
              price they are selling it at - when i can take 15 min
              to make a sauce from canned tomatoes. When Im not home
              or don't have time for this step, the cheaper sauces I
              mentioned work fine.
              The Cooks article said the tasters used freshness -
              fresh tomato taste such as would be obtained in a very-
              briefly cooked sauce from ripe, fresh tomatoes- as
              their standard. The Rao's sauce was noted to be
              distinctive but some of the testers had violent
              negative opinions of it, and neither it nor the other
              designer sauces tested met the tester standards for
              Some people prefer longer cooked or differently
              seasoned sauces, perhaps, than their testing group.
              In any case, tastes differ, and thats a good thing.

              1. re: jen kalb
                Daniel Sonenberg Aug 25, 1999 12:30 PM

                I guess that does explain my reaction, as I'm
                definitely a long, slow-cooked sauce (uncovered, of
                course!)kind of guy. I don't see how a sauce could be
                done in fifteen minutes - if you use fresh tomatoes
                simply peeling seeding and chopping them takes that
                long, and I always find it takes at least 45 minutes
                for the acidity to cook away. What's the trick for a
                quick sauce like that?


                1. re: Daniel Sonenberg
                  jonathan gold Aug 25, 1999 02:23 PM

                  Sauce made from fresh tomatoes is a wondrous thing, but a completely different animal from sauce in a jar. If you have great fresh tomatoes, it's a crime to use them in anything more complicated than a checca.

                  But there are a lot of sauces made from canned tomatoes--better than fresh 11 months a year--that are pretty amazing, and are done by the time the water comes to a boil and you finish boiling the pasta.

                  Most involve sauteeing aromatics--onion, garlic, minced anchovy filets, parsley, pancetta, fresh chiles--in a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil, then squishing canned whole plum tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand) to a rough puree with your fingers, squeezing the runny juice into the sink, and frying uncovered with the aromatics until the water cooks out, about 15 minutes, and the oil floats free at the top.

                  It is possible to doctor a commercial bottled pasta sauce like this, but it actually tastes better when you start with good canned tomatoes. Why pay for their garlic powder and dessicated mushrooms when you can use the real stuff so easily?

                  1. re: jonathan gold
                    Carm Aug 25, 1999 11:03 PM

                    I can't agree with you more Jonathan! There are a lot
                    of good canned tomatoes to be had, but, if buying the
                    Muir Glen (which I use all the time, buy only the
                    whole tomatoes in basil. There is a big difference
                    among the puree, chopped and whole tomatoes with the
                    whole tomatoes being much better. The "Food Maven",
                    Arthur Schwartz, has several excellent recipes for
                    various tomatoe sauces in his book "Naples at Table"--
                    one of which can be made in five minutes from canned
                    tomatoes. Too, don't forget it is the quality of the
                    pasta that is key to a good pasta dish--try the
                    Lentini brand to quickly find out how true this is!

                    1. re: jonathan gold
                      Tom M Aug 26, 1999 12:05 PM

                      For an incredible sauce made with canned tomatoes, try
                      Marcella Hazan's Tomato and Anchovy Sauce from
                      Essentials of Italian Cooking. It takes about half-an-
                      hour to cook.

                      A trick I learned from an Italian cook is to shave
                      bits of carrot into the sauce. I believe that the
                      effect of the sweetness offsets some of the acidity in
                      fast-cooked tomato sauces. Look at jars of commercial
                      sauce: you will see that they use sugar for the same

                      1. re: Tom M
                        Steve Osvold Oct 20, 1999 11:32 PM

                        In addition to adding sweetness, finely grated carrots are supposed to keep the sauce from separating. Seems to work for me....

                      2. re: jonathan gold
                        Pam Sommers Aug 26, 1999 12:09 PM

                        You write: "...it's a crime to use them in anything
                        more complicated than a checca."

                        Jonathan: Perhaps you can answer a question that is
                        under debate in our family. Is that pronounced kekka,
                        or check-a, or chech-a?

                        Thanks in advance!

                        1. re: Pam Sommers
                          Giorgio Sep 16, 1999 09:45 PM

                          checca is pronounced "kekka." There is no "k" in
                          italian, but the "k" sound is produced with "ch."

                          As an italian, may I say something about sauce? 1) No
                          canned or bottled sauce can compare with freshly made.
                          2) contrary to what some people believe, most tomato
                          sauces should not be slow cooked for a long time. In
                          fact the only sauce that should be slow cooked is a
                          meat ragu.
                          3) Glen Muir tomatoes are quite good, as good as some
                          of the variety of san marzano tomatoes from italy. But
                          I like very much the "Squisita" brand from Italy.
                          beware though -- some Squisita tomatoes are not
                          imported, so check the label to be sure.

                          1. re: Giorgio
                            Carmen Sep 16, 1999 11:58 PM

                            Georgio, my guess is that you would recommend whole
                            tomatoes and not the puree or chopped. The Muir Glen
                            cans are coated so there is no "metallic" taste from
                            these tomatoes that one often finds in canned
                            tomatoes. Don't forget canned tomatoes DO have a shelf
                            life of about six months or so. In Italy tomatoes are
                            most often found in jars.

                            1. re: Giorgio
                              jonathan gold Sep 17, 1999 02:09 PM

                              There is nothing that cheeses me off more than some big, expensive, beautiful can of San Marzano tomatoes that turns out when you get them home to be San Marzano brand (!) tomatoes, grown in Pennsylvania or something, with all the zesty, sun-ripened tomato flavor of pink bathing caps. I've been fooled more than once--it's the impeccable graphic design.

                              1. re: jonathan gold
                                Jim Leff Sep 17, 1999 06:01 PM

                                A while ago there was a company that provided
                                warranties to grey-market electronics. They were called
                                the "USA Warranty Company", so stores could offer grey-
                                market goods with a "full USA warranty".

                                1. re: jonathan gold
                                  Martha Gehan Sep 20, 1999 01:42 PM

                                  The key to not getting fooled is to look closely at the
                                  label, as Giorgio suggests, and beware of the
                                  words"tipo Italiano"-this is a euphemism for plum
                                  tomatoes grown elsewhere, frequently Argentina. They
                                  are NOT the same. I also like La Squisita's true San
                                  Marzano tomatoes-you can usually get them or a
                                  functional equivalent at Russo's on East 11th St or Di
                                  Palo's on Grand.

                            2. re: jonathan gold
                              Rachel Perlow Sep 30, 1999 02:44 PM

                              "sauteeing aromatics--onion, garlic, minced anchovy filets, parsley, pancetta, fresh chiles--in a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil, then squishing canned whole plum tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)"

                              Have you tried the Muir Glen brand of sauces? I found them on sale at a local gourmet/wine shop (Madison Wine & Liquor, stores in both Madison and Livingston, New Jersey - my wine afficianado mother-in-law was quite impressed with their wine collection, but I go there for the cheese and olive oil!) for $1.99!

                              It was so cheap because they decided to stop carrying Muir Glen because it had become "popular" enough for supermarkets to carry it, so the gourmet section of the wine shop dropped it. I hope this success doesn't ruin this excellent "starter" sauce (as described above).

                              1. re: Rachel Perlow
                                jen kalb Sep 30, 1999 03:49 PM

                                probably unneccessary word of warning - I'm rather certain jonathan didn't mean to suggest the use of ALL of those aromatics at the same time in a homemade sauce.

                                1. re: jen kalb
                                  j gold Oct 1, 1999 01:17 AM

                                  This would be correct. If I'd meant you to use all of them, I would have suggested that you throw a handful of orange zest in there too.

                        2. re: Daniel Sonenberg
                          Heidi Aug 25, 1999 12:04 PM

                          IMHO, Rao's sauce is definitely NOT the next-best-
                          thing to homemade sauce; it still has that "bottled"
                          flavor but it is not awful. I recall the Cooks' panel
                          as having a very difficult time selecting a jarred
                          sauce, and it seemed as though it was a case of "if I
                          HAD to pick one...". There is another sauce, quite
                          pricey and in smaller jars, but has an extremely fresh
                          tomato taste, not messed with too much and includes
                          only a few quality ingredients...and the winner is,
                          (for me) Rustichella d'Abruzzo, found at gourmet-style
                          markets. They also make a damned good dried pasta.

                          1. re: Heidi
                            Heidi Aug 25, 1999 12:07 PM

                            Let me add, that at that price, I only purchased it
                            once and prefer to make my own anyday BUT it is good
                            enough to send or bring as a gift.

                            1. re: Heidi
                              Jon Wolfe Aug 26, 1999 01:18 PM

                              Victoria Marinara sauce is exactly the same as Rao's
                              (and made by the same foodservice corp.) at half the
                              price. Barilla and Five Brothers have sugar, which, in
                              my view, is a deal breaker.

                              1. re: Jon Wolfe
                                jen kalb Aug 26, 1999 01:33 PM

                                dont see why it should be a dealbreaker - many or even
                                most good recipes for fresh tomato sauce have just a
                                touch of sugar, as a flavor enhancer and to counter
                                excess acidity - I do agree that if the sauce is
                                perceived as sweeter than natural tomatoes, like some
                                of the commercial sauces, that that is a definite no

                                1. re: Jon Wolfe
                                  Mary Aug 10, 2000 01:41 AM

                                  Which food service company makes Victoria Marinara sauce? I bought it on the East Coast and loved it. I've since moved and want to find a source for it.

                              2. re: Heidi
                                david Mar 13, 2001 04:41 PM

                                I am literally sitting here eating rusticella pasta with RAO's sauce!!!!! i think rao's is wonderful, the pasta, btw is pretty outstanding for dried pasta.

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