HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Vincent's Sauce

Every Christmas my uncle brings over a few containers of sauce from Vincent's, one mild and one spicy. As those of you who have tasted it will know, it's got a very different taste profile than traditional tomato sauces. I was wondering if anyone out there knew a general ingredient list for their sauces?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I used to go to Vincent’s weekly years ago and loved the shrimp with hot sauce. I tried to duplicate it but there was always something missing. I did work with a guy whose mother lived in Little Italy and knew Mrs. Siano. She claimed that she got the recipe from Mrs. Siano and that it was nothing more than tomato paste, olive oil, red pepper and basil simmered for a long time. I was in contact with someone else that was looking for the recipe a few years ago and here were his comments:

    > For any of you that know Vincent's in Little Italy, on the corner of Mott
    > Hester Streets, they make a red sauce for their seafood. I have been
    > double shrimp with hot sauce, since I was a kid. A close friend of mine
    and I
    > have been trying to figure out exactly how they make the sauce, or better
    > find someone that has the recipe. For me, it has been a fun run of trial
    > error, and research... unfortunately for my buddy, it has turned into an
    > obsession. I would appreciate any information, feedback, or better yet,
    > recipe, for Vincent's sauce. So far, we have tried using double the tomato
    > paste that one would use for classic Italian gravy (1 can tomatoes, 4 cans
    > paste, instead of traditional 1:2), also, we have tried adding beef broth
    > (which turned the sauce brown, but gave it a similar flavor). I also feel
    > garlic, lightly sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, but not burned, as well
    > fresh basil, oregano, and chile peppers, wrapped in a cheese cloth and
    > in the sauce, then removed, and maybe even possibly add an onion to the
    > cloth. I have also been told to try using either chicken broth, or a
    > broth in the mix, and one suggestion was to add some espresso coffee to
    > suppossedly that was the secret ingredient. In anycase, if there is anyone
    > there, "in the know" that has the recipe, or has duplicated it, it would
    > very much appreciated.

    If you find out any more I would love to know.

    1. Tomato paste makes sense now that I think of it---even like a 3:1 ratio of paste to sauce. That would explain the sweetness. Maybe even sundried tomato paste. There's a TON of oil in it--that's gotta come from somewhere and it can't be all olive oil, so maybe figuring out where the oil comes from is step one.

      1. I'll have to try experimenting again. If I come up with anything I'll let you know. I do believe that the oil is all olive oil. If you get anymore info let me know. It seems strange that this recipe is such a mystery.

        1. I think the oil is some olive oil, but when you get it "take out" as it were, there is like a solid inch+ of oil just sitting around on top. My bet is there is some meat cooked in it at some stage. But the oil doesn't taste greasy, like it would if it were animal fat, so then again, it could just be that someone likes to put in a ton of olive oil.

          I do think that in any event, there is an inordinate amount of tomato paste. That must be big thing.

          1. My Sicilan grandmother would make a simliar sauce using what I remember as "stratu" a thick almost brownish black tomato paste which was home made on tables out of doors she cherished it

            1. I would think that since the sauce is produced on a large scale now that it has ingredients that are readily found. The fact that it is from an old family recipe would lead me to believe that there isn't any real exotic ingredients. I don't know how available "stratu" is but I would think that cooking tomato paste for a long time might give it a similar flavor. I have gotten close to the recipe but there is still something missing.

              1. What have you put in your attempts at making V's sauce?

                3 Replies
                1. re: GJWhite

                  I use a cup of olive oil and heat it over high heat. I add three Tbls of red pepper flakes, two Tbls of minced garlic and a handfull of basil. After that is well cooked I add two 12 ounce cans of tomato paste. I don't mix it in and kind of deep fry the tomato paste. I spread the paste to maximize the cooking area after a few minutes. I kind of eyeball it until it looks and smells done then add a can of petite diced tomatoes to thin it out and mix it well. After that the more you simmer it the better it gets. It is close but is still missing something.

                  1. re: Hammer5

                    you may want to consider adding a cup or two of finely chopped onions with the garlic and basil. the ingredients on the vincents sauce include onions. but they either cook the sauce so long that they disolve or they puree the sauce with a stick blender or something before they serve it. I also added some water to thin the sauce out a little. not the greatest idea, but i couldn't think of anything else.

                    1. re: Hammer5

                      "It is close but is still missing something."

                      Have you tried adding coffee? I often use a T. or more by taste, of a good instant (usually Tasters Choice granules) in tomato based sauces/braises. Adds a 'certain something' without screaming coffee.

                  2. I don't know from Vincent's, so I don't know exactly what you're looking for, taste-wise. But from the sound of these posts, you're looking for an ingredient a little out of the ordinary, and maybe something from the old country. Has anybody added 1 or 2 chopped/mashed anchovies fillets?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: yayadave

                      I've heard that expresso was a possible ingredient.

                      Anchovies?? Hmmm.

                      1. re: Hammer5

                        Tomato paste is the main ingredient, tomato sauce is used as a thinner as needed. I doubt that there is any meat or coffee in it. As to oil, it has to be olive or a blend of olive and some other oil. Restaurants almost always cut corners and at the price of olive oil what you're getting on top is NOT 100% olive oil. I will say that the flavor today is very different from 50+years ago. The closest I got was 100% paste and a little water to keep it from burning, BUT it has to cook a very long time.

                    2. When I was a kid I worked in a sea food rest. in Little Italy. the sauce that was made was very similar to Vincents.
                      I large can of plum tomatoes
                      3 6oz cans of tomato paste
                      1 small onion finely diced
                      3 cloves of garlic finely diced
                      1/2 cup good olive oil
                      1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and 1/4 cup basil
                      heat oil saute onion and garlic until translucent add the paste and and cook ffor a few min. puree the plum tomatoes and add to the paste mixture.make sure there is at least 1/4 of oil covering the sauce.add crushed pepper to taste. cook on a very low simmer stirring often for 2/12-3 hrs.enjoy this sauce is a favorite of my family and friends. Enjoy

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: pasquale

                        i make it whit half corn oil and half olive oil you must yous alot of oil make cure it covers the sauce also 1 or 2 table spoons of salt 4 or 5 table spoons of black pepper 6 cloves of garlic finely diced so they could melt 1 or 2 bottles of crushed pepper depending on how hot you want it i yous 2 and then a whole jar of clam juice let that cook on a very low fire for about 10 mins then put 2 6 0z cans of red pack tamato paste and just let that cook 2 to 3 hours the longer you cook it the better then when your done put it in a container in the fridge over night heat it up the next day and it will taste pretty close

                        1. re: mnicholas1124

                          Corn starch..........ugh! Italians from the old country NEVER used corn starch. My mother came to the US in 1920 and we never had corn starch in the house. Forget the garlic powder too. Real Italian cooking uses garlic cloves.....period.
                          I agree with many of the others, Tomato paste and more tomato paste.

                          1. re: Remag1234

                            the post says "corn oil", not "corn starch". not sure how the clam juice figures in or 2 bottles of red pepper,but i am late to this party, lol.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Here's an excerpt from the post:

                              jjviii Dec 7, 2008 10:06 AM

                              The Secret to their hot sauce is this: after 2-1/2 hours(maybe 1/4 teaspoon of Garlic POWDER (not granulated -POWDER !!). Then in hour 4 add a little water cook for 1/2 hour and then & thicken using a little cornstarch & cold water mixture. Cook a few more minutes and voila !!! NO BLACK PEPPER !!!!!

                              1. re: Remag

                                your post shows you replying to mnicholas, not jjviii. sorry for my confusion.

                                that also sounds like a mess. cooking any dried spice til black will make for acrid flavors.

                      2. The Secret to their hot sauce is this: Cook the crushed red peppers in the olive & soy or corn oil mixture. (less smoke) until they are BLACK. Drain and keep the oil, discard pepper flakes, sautee small diced (tiny dices) onion & 4-5 cloves(again Very small pieces) of garlic in this oil on VERY low until almost disolved and drain & dicard onion & garlic and keep oil again, THEN make the sauce sauteeing garlic, onion until translucent add and cook the 3 to 1 mixture of paste to puree on VERY low for 5+ hours,.. Stirring occasionally. adding the minced parsley basil mixture after 2-1/2 hours(maybe 1/4 teaspoon of Garlic POWDER (not granulated -POWDER !!). Then in hour 4 add a little water cook for 1/2 hour and then & thicken using a little cornstarch & cold water mixture. Cook a few more minutes and voila !!! NO BLACK PEPPER !!!!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jjviii

                          I recently tried a version with lots of olive oil with a tomato paste base--came very close as an approximation.

                        2. My wife and I saw online that someone suggested baking chocolate for pasta sauce; we tried it, and it was just like Vincent's! It was really surprising. We added just half a square to a 4-cup sauce, and it may have been too much but just barely. Really good!

                          1. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade but the recipes below are not Vincent's original sauce. I haven't had it lately but it has become commercial and is not the same as in the old days. The addition of chocolate, espresso is a possibility of a decent copy. It's definitely Tomato Paste sauce. How can anyone suggest the original recipe contained soy oil, garlic powder and corn starch is added. UGH! The only problem is the amount of espresso and or chocolate. Next time I try I'll use both chocolate & espresso. I don't remember tasting oregano or parsley. Oh, who needs all the oil mentioned here?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Remag

                              Not raining on my parade,I got my recipe from Ye old Lime house cor of Mott and Bayard,it was an neighborhood institution for many years. Not exactly Vincents but just as good,

                              1. re: pasquale

                                No problem with your recipe, it's as close to mine as possible. I do not measure but eyeball like my mother. I usually just use crushed tomatoes with puree in a #10 can.