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What is your favorite tomato/marinara sauce in a jar?

michael23 Jan 3, 2007 09:59 PM

If you're not making it from scratch, and whether or not you add something to it, what is the best brand (and flavor/style) of sauce in a jar?

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    strawberryfrog RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 10:02 PM

    I like most of the Trader Joe's sauces because they are usually lacking in extra sugar, gums, preservatives, etc. They seem to be lacking that weird chemically taste that's in Ragu and some of the cheapie supermarket brands. I tried Rao's once and it was delicious, but I can't bring myself to pay $8 for a jar of spaghetti sauce! :-)

    11 Replies
    1. re: strawberryfrog
      QueenB RE: strawberryfrog Jan 3, 2007 10:27 PM

      You can make Rao's sauce at home, and it's really very easy.

      I have yet to find a jarred sauce I really like, but I'll use Barilla and doctor it up with fresh basil, some garlic and red wine.

      For how much it costs, it's much more effective for me to make a large batch of homemade occasionally and freeze it in smaller portions.

      1. re: QueenB
        foodperv RE: QueenB Jan 29, 2008 06:27 AM

        DITTO queenb
        the only thing i have ever used the jarred junk is for pizza

        1. re: foodperv
          CinnamonKitten RE: foodperv Jun 25, 2009 05:33 AM

          Trader Joe's pizza sauce is excellent!

        2. re: QueenB
          yogajojo RE: QueenB Mar 3, 2008 08:43 AM

          Try Moretti's Organic Marinara its the best

        3. re: strawberryfrog
          IndyGirl RE: strawberryfrog Jan 4, 2007 12:48 AM

          2nd the TJ's recommendation...we love their organic vokda sauce. It is very good.

          1. re: IndyGirl
            Jeda RE: IndyGirl Jan 4, 2007 04:57 PM

            I, too, LOVE the organic vodka sauce! I think it's the best jarred sauce out there.

          2. re: strawberryfrog
            Jesdamala RE: strawberryfrog Jan 4, 2007 03:09 AM

            Rao's. Arrabbiata or Marinara. I often add my own onions, capers,
            Calamata olives if I am out of the Arribbiata, as Marinara is easier to find. Worth every penny, in my opinion. I have tried many, many sauces. I cannot say I like supporting a restaurant who would never allow me to dine there, but in this case I do. I have been buying their products since they were introduced, and never disappointed.

            1. re: Jesdamala
              Scargod RE: Jesdamala Jun 20, 2009 07:39 AM

              Tried the Rao brand recently and used the Arrabbiata, which is supposed to be hot. NOT!
              It seemed to be good ingredients, but I had to add pepper flakes. It was pretty plain and wimpy by itself. I cooked onions and garlic and mixed it in to simmer with browned chicken thighs.
              Is there anything more substantial in their line of sauces?
              And my second thought is that it was not at all mind-blowing for $8.

              1. re: Scargod
                alkapal RE: Scargod Jun 20, 2009 08:39 PM

                scargod, you could doctor their marinara recipe: http://www.therecipereader.com/marina...

            2. re: strawberryfrog
              Zucumber84 RE: strawberryfrog Jan 28, 2008 01:12 PM

              Yeah I have a hard time paying $8 a jar. I have been into making my own sauce these days - a can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste is pretty cheap and then I can have as much garlic, onions and mushrooms that I want!

              1. re: strawberryfrog
                Querencia RE: strawberryfrog Jun 20, 2009 08:54 PM

                I second Trader Joe's Organic Marinara. It has an incredibly low amount of sodium---I think it's 25 mg per serving compared with around 600 in big name brands so that seems closer to something I'd make myself. I've been using it to make Tortellini Soup--- cook beef bones with onion and celery to make stock, strain through a colander, cook in it two packages of frozen tortellini, then add the jar of marinara sauce, a big can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, a can of diced tomatoes, salt, and garlic powder and basil to taste (a lot, in other words). This makes a substantial, tasty soup.

              2. Chris VR RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 10:41 PM

                Barilla is the only jarred sauce I like- the others are too sweet. But agree,none compares to homemade.

                1. King of Northern Blvd RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 10:41 PM

                  I have recently found that I like the Barilla Tomato Basil sauce in a jar. I tried the Marinara once but did not care for it. I used to be a Classico fan but now I can't touch the stuff, I don't now if they changed or I did..It's just sickly sweet. I normally just make my own though and just use the jar when I have to..

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: King of Northern Blvd
                    southernitalian RE: King of Northern Blvd Jan 28, 2008 12:48 PM

                    I like the Classico 4 Cheese if I'm too lazy to make my own. I doctor it up. I love having the nice jars when it runs out. I use them for everything. They're a great glass for a Bloody Mary.

                    1. re: southernitalian
                      CookforFun RE: southernitalian Jan 29, 2008 07:14 AM

                      I too love the Classico 4 cheese

                    2. re: King of Northern Blvd
                      pollymerase RE: King of Northern Blvd Jan 29, 2008 05:51 AM

                      I also like Barilla the best. I enjoy the roasted garlic variety. I bought a Bertoli once by accident, and it wasn't bad, but not as good as the Barilla.

                      1. re: pollymerase
                        coney with everything RE: pollymerase Feb 1, 2008 09:45 AM

                        I lke Barilla tomato basil, and also the Meijer brand organic tomato basil sauce. I would imagine that the Meijer sauce is packaged under other brand names.

                    3. OCAnn RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 10:45 PM

                      Newman's Own Sockarooni when we're feeling lazy.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: OCAnn
                        SarahEats RE: OCAnn Jan 4, 2007 12:31 AM

                        What's in the Sockarooni? I asked my mom the other day if she keeps a jar of sauce on hand and she mentioned this one from Newman's Own. We got sidetracked and I forgot to ask her about the name.

                        1. re: SarahEats
                          jfood RE: SarahEats Jan 4, 2007 12:51 AM

                          don't get your hopes up sarah, it is really terrible. thick, sweet and just overall blah!!!

                          1. re: SarahEats
                            OCAnn RE: SarahEats Jan 4, 2007 03:39 PM

                            I don't know what's in the Sockarooni. DH brought it home one day and I enjoyed it (surprisingly, since DH usu makes his own sauce).

                            1. re: SarahEats
                              Cheflambo RE: SarahEats Mar 6, 2008 12:16 PM

                              We like newman's tomato & basil. Always have a couple of jars on the shelf. Doctor it up with an additional (small) can of straight tomato sauce and a handful of oregano and fresh parsley. I also "rinse" out the jar with about a 1/4 cup of red wine and throw that in too.

                              I also like the Barilla brand. They have one with olives that makes a good quick pizza sauce. I see Rao's around and although Im tempted to treat myself once in a while, I really do wonder what makes an $8 jar better than a $3 jar. Knowing the restaurant and its clientele as I do, I feel like they are making me "an offer I can't refuse".

                            2. re: OCAnn
                              revsharkie RE: OCAnn Jan 4, 2007 12:41 AM

                              Yes! But our local store doesn't carry it.

                              1. re: OCAnn
                                KristieB RE: OCAnn Jun 24, 2009 10:06 AM

                                I LOVE that sauce also! Actually I like all the Newman's Own sauces. And the salad dressings.

                              2. e
                                emilief RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 11:28 PM

                                Rao's is really excellent and worth the $ in my opinion.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: emilief
                                  MKS RE: emilief Jan 3, 2007 11:38 PM

                                  Trader Joe's organic marinara sauce works for me in pinch. Can even pass it off as my own to my Italian parents. Just have to remember to hide the empty jars.

                                  1. re: MKS
                                    Glencora RE: MKS Jan 4, 2007 12:27 AM

                                    I like it too. It doesn't have a lot of mystery ingredients. My own frozen sauce is good, but I'm starting to run out and it's only January.

                                    1. re: Glencora
                                      Steve RE: Glencora Jan 4, 2007 02:52 AM

                                      A third for TJ's marinara. The other sauce that I adore is Cento brand Arabiatta. It's perfect and, of course, spicy.

                                      1. re: Steve
                                        jenniebnyc RE: Steve Jan 4, 2007 02:58 AM

                                        i just tried Centos "chefs cut" canned tomatoes and they were very good.

                                  2. re: emilief
                                    Jesdamala RE: emilief Jan 4, 2007 03:10 AM

                                    As I mentioned in a post above, I fully agree. Worth every penny.

                                    1. re: emilief
                                      JenBoes RE: emilief Aug 1, 2008 09:34 AM

                                      Ditto. I especially like the one with eggplant - can't remember the actual name. Considering the price of pasta, it still makes a pretty inexpensive meal even if Rao's is $8.

                                    2. b
                                      bakeryqueen RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 11:39 PM

                                      My absolute favorite is Pomi.

                                      It's not in a jar per se, but it comes in a little cardboard crate.

                                      I like the marinara. It doesn't taste overly sweet or salty like a lot of the jarred brands.


                                      1. jfood RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 11:40 PM

                                        I alternate between Rao's and Patsy's. Patsy's has a little more zip from a little more garlic.

                                        As with everyone else, homemade is the best.

                                        1. h
                                          harryharry RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 11:40 PM

                                          Scarpetto or Sauces n Love... same company, one is fresh and one is shelf stable.. both are fantastic... some Whole Foods carry them.

                                          1. Candy RE: michael23 Jan 3, 2007 11:50 PM

                                            Filomena's and Delallo's

                                            1. c
                                              CDouglas RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:26 AM

                                              Victoria's marinara is pretty good.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: CDouglas
                                                FAL RE: CDouglas Jan 6, 2007 09:30 AM

                                                Victoria's is a family owned and ran company. All their products are made in Brooklyn. Been around for years. All their product are good.

                                                1. re: FAL
                                                  Doug in Mesa RE: FAL Feb 7, 2007 09:43 PM

                                                  I'm late to this but I agree with Victoria's. It's very similar to Roa's but less expensive and a bit harder to find.

                                                  1. re: Doug in Mesa
                                                    jennyfire RE: Doug in Mesa Jul 16, 2008 09:56 PM

                                                    I love all of the Victoria's brand sauces. The roasted garlic is a sure winner. You can tell a sauce is going to be good when you can see little rivers of oil running through the sauce in the jar. Good oil goes a long way to make a great sauce!

                                              2. h
                                                Heatherb RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:47 AM

                                                Barilla, Newman's, Classico are my choices for jarred sauce. Barilla had a sauce that came in two jars for a while that I really liked, but they appear to have taken it off the market. Just as well, as I think it was probably pretty bad for you... I keep meaning to try Cento brand. I think someone on this site recommended it. I could be delusional though...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Heatherb
                                                  Will Owen RE: Heatherb Jan 25, 2008 05:55 PM

                                                  I think my favorites are the least elaborate of both the Newman's and the Classico, especially since I use these mostly to fill out what I started from scratch. The Classico tomato and basil is about the best, to me.

                                                2. Karl S RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:50 AM

                                                  Choose sauces that have tomatoes, rather than puree, as the first ingredient. And no corn syrup.

                                                  While I like Rao's somewhat oily marinara, I've found I really love Cento's vodka sauce, which is not too dairy-rich at all. It glazes pasta properly, which is often difficult with jarred sauces.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                    jfood RE: Karl S Jan 4, 2007 12:53 AM

                                                    Agree that Rao's is a little oily, but i've used a texhnique i am absolutely sure you know of and add some pasta water when i mix the pasta. It works like a charm with the Rao's.

                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                      Karl S RE: jfood Jan 4, 2007 06:04 PM

                                                      Yes, that's standard procedure for most of my pasta sauces, especially jarred ones. And that's the ticket.

                                                      1. re: jfood
                                                        sivyaleah RE: jfood Jan 4, 2007 07:15 PM

                                                        Yep, I do the same thing!

                                                    2. u
                                                      uptown jimmy RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 01:03 AM

                                                      Anybody ever had Mama Coco's? I used to buy it at the Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, but have never seen it since. Awesome stuff....

                                                      1. b
                                                        boppiecat RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 01:14 AM

                                                        one hundred percent italian here but i'm too busy/lazy to make my own anymore. trader joe's marinara is good. so's barilla with basil, tastewise, but has anyone moticed there are inevitably these hard onion bits? very unappetizing. i've recently started using tuttarosa brand jarred sauce and like it better than the others. it's not a fancy brand. in fact, it's often less than barilla but the tomato quality is very good.

                                                        1. h
                                                          hummingbird RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 01:46 AM

                                                          I like Barilla Tomato Basil too, but since I like smooth not chunky I use the immersion blender. However, I never use it straight out of the jar, I always add things.

                                                          1. jenniebnyc RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 01:56 AM

                                                            in this order and all marinara only:

                                                            san marzano jarred sauce

                                                            1. j
                                                              Jacey RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 03:02 AM

                                                              Classico Spicy Red Pepper

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Jacey
                                                                diablo RE: Jacey Jan 26, 2008 02:50 PM

                                                                I also like this one, plus it's fairly inexpensive.

                                                              2. s
                                                                Stek RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 03:18 AM

                                                                San Marizano whole peeled tomatos - crush 'em up in your hands and toss 'em into the pan. They make stellar Carolina red rice.

                                                                1. o
                                                                  Obessed RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 03:22 AM

                                                                  Ditto Raos and also Silver Spoon (I think that's what it's called)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Obessed
                                                                    LA Buckeye Fan RE: Obessed Nov 6, 2008 04:09 AM

                                                                    Would that be Silver Palate? I love their homestyle marinara.

                                                                  2. HPLsauce RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 03:52 AM

                                                                    Trader Joe's "Organic Vodka Sauce" is tasty and not too fatty (unlike many vodka sauces which have tons of cream or substitute) and has decimated my experiments in "homemade" sauce.

                                                                    1. ericalloyd RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:10 PM

                                                                      raos marinara and barilla green and black olive

                                                                      1. Striver RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:13 PM

                                                                        Used to be a Rao's fan, but have switched to the Cento San Marzano line. Great sauces (marinara, arrabiata, vodka), all natural ingredients (starting with San Marzano tomatoes), and half the price of Rao's.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Striver
                                                                          Karl S RE: Striver Jan 4, 2007 06:05 PM

                                                                          I agree that Cento is the reigning benchmark now.

                                                                          1. re: Striver
                                                                            ChowFun_derek RE: Striver Jan 5, 2007 03:59 PM

                                                                            I've only seen Cento in a can and only as chopped or whole tomatoes...not as a sauce....do these sauces come jarred?

                                                                            1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                                              Striver RE: ChowFun_derek Jan 5, 2007 04:45 PM

                                                                              Yes - check out the Cento web site (www.cento.com) to see what the jars look like; you need to click on "new products" and then browse through about 3 pages. Incidentally, they also have "petit dice" jar of diced San Marzanos that makes a good sauce base.

                                                                              If you're in NYC, Fairway carries them.

                                                                              1. re: Striver
                                                                                ChowFun_derek RE: Striver Jan 5, 2007 06:01 PM

                                                                                I am in San Francisco, but know the Fairway on B'way and the newish one in Brooklyn quite well!
                                                                                Thanks for the link...we'll see how long it takes these new products to cross the Rockies!
                                                                                I emailed them to see "if, when and where....."

                                                                                1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                                                  TonyO RE: ChowFun_derek Jan 5, 2007 07:51 PM

                                                                                  They have made it to Vermont so I would imagine it won't be long. We could certainly use a Fairway in the Green Mountain State !

                                                                                2. re: Striver
                                                                                  operagirl RE: Striver Feb 8, 2007 10:59 AM

                                                                                  Might be worth checking out the Cento website just to hear that incredibly cheesy jingle . . .

                                                                            2. b
                                                                              balthazar RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:26 PM

                                                                              If not making my own, I like the Loblaws Organics (prob. available in Canada only?) line of sauces. I find they don't have that weird chemical taste mentioned above, ingredient list contains nothing scary or suspect. I'm not a fan of Classico. Must look for Rao's and San Marizano based on the above.

                                                                              1. t
                                                                                thinks too much RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:30 PM

                                                                                I go for the Francesco Rinaldi No-salt version and doctor it with fresh garlic and basil, and a fraction of the salt that the other jars have. Just reading the others' labels makes me queasy.

                                                                                1. b
                                                                                  bill_in_dunn RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:41 PM

                                                                                  I use Muir Glen crushed fire roasted tomatoes (comes in a can rather than a jar) and add red wine, olive oil and a little sugar. Thicken it a bit by boiling.

                                                                                  1. TonyO RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:49 PM

                                                                                    The Cento line is truly excellent. At $2.99 when it is on sale, I buy it all here in Vermont. You can eat the stuff right out of the jar. It outtastes most restaurants by a mile especially if you slow simmer with some meatballs and/or sausage. There was also a brand call Momma's which is good and has about 15 hole cloves of garlic and plenty of whole leaf basil in it. I think it runs around $6.

                                                                                    1. Das Ubergeek RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:56 PM

                                                                                      Wow, I'm going to have to try Rao's. When I need gravy in a jar I usually go for Five Brothers -- surprisingly good for something you can now buy at the 99c store.

                                                                                      I don't use jarred marinara as my final culinary destination unless I'm totally screwed for time, so I can usually doctor anything I buy -- but the corn syrup crap bothers me a lot, since I never put sugar in my homemade gravy.

                                                                                      1. g
                                                                                        Gigigirl2 RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:59 PM


                                                                                        1. j
                                                                                          Janet from Richmond RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 12:59 PM

                                                                                          I use a lot of higher end jarred sauces from time to time but recently discovered the Pomi Marinara sauce in the box (similar in label to their tomatoes) and it's heads and shoulders above everything else.

                                                                                          1. sivyaleah RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 04:54 PM

                                                                                            Rao's Marinara or the one with the basil in it. Yes, it's expensive but I stock up on it when it goes on sale. It tastes the most authentic; isn't full of other ingredients which don't belong in jarred tomato sauce like corn syrup. I wouldn't use it if making something which required gallons of sauce - then I'd make my own but for a simple dinner for just my husband and I, 1 jar can last get us through 2 or 3 meals so it is economical for us.

                                                                                            I also like Mario Batali's plain Pomodoro but alas, can't find it anywhere any longer. Trader Joe's used to sell it but for some reason stopped a while ago.

                                                                                            I'm going to try Patsy's - America's Test Kitchen recently gave it a very high rating.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: sivyaleah
                                                                                              jfood RE: sivyaleah Jan 4, 2007 04:59 PM

                                                                                              Patsy's is my other go-to sauce, had last night with some pasta and sausage.

                                                                                              You will find it a bit more garlicy than the Rao's.

                                                                                              1. re: jfood
                                                                                                sivyaleah RE: jfood Jan 4, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                                                                Garlicky would be a good thing :-)

                                                                                                1. re: jfood
                                                                                                  adventuresinbaking RE: jfood Mar 6, 2008 09:20 AM

                                                                                                  Another first person pronoun use by jfood!

                                                                                                  My local italian deli makes their own sauce and bottles it. It is really good. I make my own, but sometimes I just don't want to wash all the dishes.

                                                                                              2. j
                                                                                                Judith RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                                                                Safeway Select tomato basil is really just tomatoes, olive oil, basil and garlic. But I don't use it straight out of the jar, more as a quick and dirty way to make almost home-made sauce when I'm in a hurry.

                                                                                                1. j
                                                                                                  Jeda RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 05:01 PM

                                                                                                  I tried a Pastene jarred sauce once, and was delighted by how tasty it was - I think it was the marinara. It did have a good deal of olive oil in it, but that made it delicious, not oily.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Jeda
                                                                                                    thegolferbitch RE: Jeda Jan 5, 2007 11:27 AM

                                                                                                    Jeda, I don't know if this is available everywhere but when I am absolutely lazy I like the Pastene Puttanesca sauce. I throw in whatever I have on hand--black olives or capers or anchovies.

                                                                                                    1. re: thegolferbitch
                                                                                                      Jeda RE: thegolferbitch Jan 5, 2007 01:47 PM

                                                                                                      Thanks for the tip! My grocery store has a Pastene section, and I'm pretty sure they carry a few different sauces. I'll try the Puttanesca.

                                                                                                  2. whs RE: michael23 Jan 4, 2007 07:34 PM

                                                                                                    Mario Batali used to sell a line of sauces at Trader Joe's. As with everything else we like there i.e. garlic pistachios, they disappeared. Just went on Mario's website--looks like he'll be selling them at Whole Foods--no doubt at a higher price.

                                                                                                    1. s
                                                                                                      scrapple RE: michael23 Jan 5, 2007 08:01 AM

                                                                                                      Barilla - best cost to quality ratio

                                                                                                      1. d
                                                                                                        Devourer RE: michael23 Jan 5, 2007 10:31 PM

                                                                                                        I used to like 5 Brothers sauce when it was around (burgandy wine or tomato basil). I think it turned into Classico, and doesn't seem to taste as good anymore. I went through a stint where I would only use Ragu traditional, because Prego (the other sauce that was readily available in our grocery store) was too sweet, and the Ragu seemed closer to the stuff that I had eaten in Italy (where I also learned to enjoy al dente pasta). Now I tend to make my own sauce, but I bet Ragu doctored with some garlic, basil, and red wine wouldn't be too bad either.

                                                                                                        1. f
                                                                                                          Fritz RE: michael23 Jan 5, 2007 10:39 PM

                                                                                                          TJ's organic marinara is my back-up. But otherwise we diy.
                                                                                                          I've been tempted to try Raos, but at $6 or more ............
                                                                                                          I always doctor the sauce a bit, but it's pretty darn good.
                                                                                                          Gotta wonder though, since TJ doesn't make it themselves and probably just badge their own of someone else's ..........

                                                                                                          1. spinach RE: michael23 Feb 7, 2007 10:25 PM

                                                                                                            Barilla, hands down,,,read the label no HFSC,,( i percieve it to be a plus).aside from that the flavors are rich, the sauce is thick but not about to harden, there;s good balance of garlic and onion, and the herbs they use, they offer a limited but valid sections of choice.
                                                                                                            if i want Rao's it'll be after i actually get into the restaraunt,,,or when he danes to send me a caseload to my home.

                                                                                                            1. v
                                                                                                              valrn RE: michael23 Feb 7, 2007 10:43 PM

                                                                                                              Classico is nice. There's no added sugar to the Four Cheese or the Florentine Spinach & Cheese varieties (my favorite!). I buy ita at Safeway in Seattle area.

                                                                                                              1. f
                                                                                                                Fleur RE: michael23 Feb 8, 2007 12:15 AM

                                                                                                                CERIELLO'S Sauces are excellent. Fresh made in small batches. They are sold here in NY at CERIELLO'S in Grand Central Market, and at Garden of Eden.

                                                                                                                1. operagirl RE: michael23 Feb 8, 2007 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                  When everyone's talking about Trader Joe's marinara, are you referring to the one in a jar or a can? Because their canned marinara is very good, and at something like $1.69 a pop, quite a good deal!

                                                                                                                  1. z
                                                                                                                    zingiraquel RE: michael23 Jan 25, 2008 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                    Barilla Olive and garlic tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                    1. FoodieKat RE: michael23 Jan 26, 2008 12:46 PM

                                                                                                                      Trader Joe's marinara sauce, in the jars. It is the only store-bought pasta sauce I don't feel the need to 'doctor' up (I usually make my own and don't like most store brands). I agree that most store brands are too sweet and not flavorful enough. TJ's is the exception.

                                                                                                                      Does anyone know where to buy tomato 'passata'? I always used to use this as the base in my pasta sauces when I lived in the UK, but haven't been able to find it since moving back to the US. It is basically stewed, pureed tomatoes, usually packed either in glass jars or cardboard (Tetra pak) which is what I've seen used most often in Italy.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodieKat
                                                                                                                        chocolatstiletto RE: FoodieKat Jan 26, 2008 07:44 PM

                                                                                                                        I just bought a jar today in Philly's Italian market! Great stuff, I can't wait to play with it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: chocolatstiletto
                                                                                                                          FoodieKat RE: chocolatstiletto Jan 28, 2008 12:37 PM

                                                                                                                          It is great stuff, and makes such a difference when cooking tomato-based pasta sauces.

                                                                                                                        2. re: FoodieKat
                                                                                                                          uptown jimmy RE: FoodieKat Jan 31, 2008 05:39 PM

                                                                                                                          Trader Joe's Vodka Sauce is really, really good.

                                                                                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                                                            FoodieKat RE: uptown jimmy Mar 3, 2008 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                            And they've just started carrying passata now too. Can't wait to try it.

                                                                                                                        3. k
                                                                                                                          kayandallie RE: michael23 Jan 26, 2008 02:32 PM

                                                                                                                          I've never made a good sauce and so have always bought jars. By the far the best is "Joe's Market" from Ukrops around here (it's my main claim to fame in the food category in the land of not good choices). It has nothing fake, San Marzano tomatoes are the first ingredient, EVOO, and only veggie parts and a few spices. I've found nothing else anywhere near so good. The website is www.ukrops.com if I've convinced you to try it.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: kayandallie
                                                                                                                            Windsor RE: kayandallie Jan 27, 2008 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                            Our new favorite is Rao's Marinara Sauce. On the lighter side, well seasoned, nice texture.

                                                                                                                            1. re: kayandallie
                                                                                                                              Janet from Richmond RE: kayandallie Mar 6, 2008 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                              You've convinced me <g> And fortunately I live in Richmond......LOL

                                                                                                                            2. Ruth Lafler RE: michael23 Jan 28, 2008 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                              I was at our local Grocery Outlet the other day and they had three brands of organic pasta sauces: Newman's Own, Seeds of Change, and Nature's Best. I ended up buying a couple of varieties of the Nature's Best because it didn't have anything in it I wouldn't put in sauce at home: no sweeteners, no gums or stabilizers, no cheap oils (the Newman's had soybean oil -- I don't care if it's organic, soybean oil is yucky), and all the ingredients were organic except for the salt! I tried the garlic marinara last night and it was very good: not too sweet and with well-balanced seasonings. I didn't feel like I needed to add anything.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                TonyO RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 28, 2008 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                I've tried teh Rao's marinara and their Roasted Eggplant sauces. I would give the nod the the Roasted Eggplant. At $5.99 I think it is a decent value (Hannaford stores). At $9.99 + I think it is overpriced (Shaw's and most other supermarkets). I always look for Cento when it is sale at Shaw's (this week) as it is priced at $2.99.

                                                                                                                                1. re: TonyO
                                                                                                                                  roro1831 RE: TonyO Jan 29, 2008 05:54 AM

                                                                                                                                  My fave is Mom's Sauce, the basil and garlic variety is the best


                                                                                                                                  1. re: roro1831
                                                                                                                                    TonyO RE: roro1831 Jan 29, 2008 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                    That has some HUGE garlic cloves in it ! It bought a bunch when a Shaw's marked it as discontinued and priced it at $2.50. It was excellent. I still see it at other stores so Shaw's must have stoppped carrying it.

                                                                                                                              2. TSQ75 RE: michael23 Jan 29, 2008 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                                Whole foods brand

                                                                                                                                1. o
                                                                                                                                  Oh Robin RE: michael23 Jan 29, 2008 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                  Prego Roasted Garlic & Onion... doctored up with more garlic, oregano, basil etc.

                                                                                                                                  1. yumyum RE: michael23 Jan 29, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                    I was going to post this a while back but seeing this thread just reminded me to recommend Copolla's "Mammarella" organic pomodoro - basilico sauce in a jar.

                                                                                                                                    I got a free jar when they ran a promotion at a Boston area liquor store -- buy two bottles of his wine (totally drinkable) and they threw in a jar of sauce and a box of dried pasta. I thought nothing of it until I had nothing in the house and threw it together.

                                                                                                                                    Simply the best jarred sauce I've ever had. All organic, no HFCS and -- NO GARLIC. I thought this would mean a lackluster sauce. Instead it's very simple and delicious -- a good base for doing your own thing. If you are a garlic fan you can throw some in.

                                                                                                                                    This is the only jarred sauce that isn't too sweet for me. Anyone else tried it?

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                                      bucksgirl RE: yumyum Nov 5, 2008 06:09 PM

                                                                                                                                      For years was addicted to Rao's Marinara - decided to stop getting ripped off and stopped buying it. Love Copolla's Mammarella - very very close to as good as Rao's. My Safeway stopped carrying it though.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: bucksgirl
                                                                                                                                        alkapal RE: bucksgirl Nov 22, 2008 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                                        bucksgirl, here is the rao's recipe, if you'd like to try making it at home: http://www.therecipereader.com/marina...

                                                                                                                                    2. andytee RE: michael23 Jan 30, 2008 07:58 PM

                                                                                                                                      rao's marinara is great. it's expensive but i dont use it often. if i am really cooking i will make my own from canned or fresh tomatoes, jar sauce is just for the lazy nights when i am making pasta, red sauce, and a simple salad.

                                                                                                                                      i don't understand "doctoring it up" - really if you are going to take the time and effort, make your own sauce, it isn't much harder. i understand a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, but i see people adding 5 ingredients to jarred sauce and have no idea why they pay the premium for "sauce" over canned tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                      rao's is great and needs nothing added, worth a few extra bucks when i want a quick dinner.

                                                                                                                                      in boston we can get g'vannis north end sauce, which is also quite good and cheaper. i switch back and forth between the two, buying rao's when it is on sale mostly. don't use more than 7-8 jars a year, so it is not such a big deal to spend money on something good though.

                                                                                                                                      1. u
                                                                                                                                        uptown jimmy RE: michael23 Jan 31, 2008 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                        On this note: anybody ever seen Mama Coco's sauces? I used to buy it at Rainbow Grocery out in San Francisco and it was like mother's milk. I've never seen it since.

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                                                                          AGENT FOODIE RE: uptown jimmy Feb 1, 2008 02:37 AM

                                                                                                                                          ever since i first tasted DELALLO, i've never bought anything else. the sauce is made from san marzano tomatoes and very little other additives. Completely balanced most importantly never too sweet, too salty, or what i really hate too sour.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                                                                            drucie RE: uptown jimmy Aug 1, 2008 08:53 AM

                                                                                                                                            Months later just discovering this thread by googling and wanted to let you know Mama Coco's is my husband's absolute favorite. We buy it at Henry's Marketplace which is a San Diego-area health food store chain now owned by Wild Oats/Whole Foods. I've also seen it at Jimbo's (another SD-area chain) and smaller indie health food stores. A brand that is very similar in taste & texture (also good pure ingredients list) is Enrico's which is also at health food stores. I'm sure Whole Foods carries it. Funny I haven't seen Mama Coco's at "gourmet" type markets but I've seen it at markets that are more health-foody than gourmet-ish.

                                                                                                                                            I am surprised to see so many recs for Barilla. I might have to give it another try since it's so much cheaper than Mama Coco's or Enrico's (plus Barilla is in every grocery store so no additional grocery trip.) Last time I tried Barilla has to be a few years and it was really sweet. I put it in something (lasagna maybe?) and I remember we were all commenting that it tasted so sweet it was almost like the sauce caramelized or something. But I do trust the Chowhounds for food recs so might give it another try.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: drucie
                                                                                                                                              alkapal RE: drucie Aug 2, 2008 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                              drucie, i think the barilla is too sweet, also.

                                                                                                                                          2. d
                                                                                                                                            Diane in Bexley RE: michael23 Feb 1, 2008 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                            Carfagna's sauce, made locally here in Columbus, Ohio

                                                                                                                                            Mid's, which I think is from Cleveland

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley
                                                                                                                                              CapeCodGuy RE: Diane in Bexley Feb 1, 2008 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                                              Frank's is available here and is the best I've found...even better than Rao. Fresh basil and roasted garlic marinara. Almost as good as my own.

                                                                                                                                            2. raf945 RE: michael23 Feb 9, 2008 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                                              The best pasta sauce I have found is from a place in West Warwick R.I. called the West Valley Inn.They market it under the name Porino's and the only place I know where you can get it is at BJ's wholesale club.I spend 12-15 hours making my sauce using a 100 year old recipe and I can't tell the difference between them when I am done.The only difference is I have one hell of a mess to clean up when I make mine.It sell's for about $6.00 dollars a gallon.

                                                                                                                                              1. c
                                                                                                                                                CDouglas RE: michael23 Mar 6, 2008 07:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                I just had Il Mulino marinara the other night and it was amazing. This has to be the freshest tasting jarred sauce I have ever tried. Everyone I served it to was blown away by the taste and quality.

                                                                                                                                                It is ludicrously expensive but would be great for a splurge or to ask for as a gift.

                                                                                                                                                1. madgreek RE: michael23 Mar 6, 2008 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Mid's: http://www.mids.cc/meatsauce.htm

                                                                                                                                                  OMG, this stuff is like crack! I used to just eat it out of the jar with some fresh italian rolls after school. I pretty much lived on that and combo's throughout high school lol. It has more meat than tomato. Seriously. It's so thick, it doesn't pour out. You have to use a spoon. I recommend it to anyone that likes a moderately sweet Bolognese-type sauce with tons of meat.

                                                                                                                                                  On a side note, I tried an unfortunately named sauce called DelGrosso's from a local discount store. It was only 99 cents, and I feel it was pretty good. It was definitely much better than sauces at some local, highly revered restaurants (Trattoria on the Hill in particular). It isn't overly sweet or salty, and didn't have the bitterness I often detect in many other sauces. The only thing I thought it might benefit from is a little heat, so red pepper flakes balanced it out quite well for me. Has anyone else had this one?

                                                                                                                                                  1. r
                                                                                                                                                    rebelurbandiva RE: michael23 Mar 6, 2008 09:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Muir Glen Organic--it tastes fresh. Much better than Cento
                                                                                                                                                    ....but the most amazing is Frankie's Gravy. I just can't get it where I live. I tasted it at a food show and all of the flavors were incredible--very fresh tasting, San Marzano tomatoes.... Rao's didn't even begin to compare.

                                                                                                                                                    1. s
                                                                                                                                                      snowwhite615 RE: michael23 Jun 20, 2009 06:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                      For years I could only eat my own or Rao's... then I found THE best- Victoria's White Linen Marinara... Costco had 2 packs for a while for $8- hope they get them again, and I'd put it through the blender before using. Actually better than Rao's.

                                                                                                                                                      1. TonyO RE: michael23 Jun 21, 2009 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                        The Mezzetta line is quite good. I have hade the marinara and the sauce with artichokes and both are very tasty. They mat be a bit oily for some, but I like to see the sheen of olive oil in a sauce, jarred or homemade. I believe they run around $5 for a 32 oz jar and need no "doctoring". I agree it is easy to make your own sauce/gravy/marinara etc. and jarred sauce is often "frowned on", but if the quality is high and the ingredients are fresh and limited, is there really that much difference between opening up a can of tomatoes, adding olive oil, sherry,garlic, parsley/basil, and salt/pepper versus twisting off a cap and heating it up. Both work for me...............................

                                                                                                                                                        1. h
                                                                                                                                                          hummingbird RE: michael23 Jun 21, 2009 08:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I've recently been seeing coupons for Silver Palate jarred sauce, but haven't seen it anywhere in my shopping area.

                                                                                                                                                          Anyone tried it?

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hummingbird
                                                                                                                                                            LA Buckeye Fan RE: hummingbird Jan 14, 2010 06:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Love their homestyle marinara. Von's carries it here in Los Angeles.

                                                                                                                                                          2. r
                                                                                                                                                            rizzo0904 RE: michael23 Jun 23, 2009 02:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Am I the only one who does NOT like Raos????

                                                                                                                                                            I always make my own, but I'll grab some from TJs next time I'm there so I can give it a shot next time I'm in a rush.

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rizzo0904
                                                                                                                                                              Scargod RE: rizzo0904 Jun 23, 2009 04:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I believe my comments were not too glowing. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3567...
                                                                                                                                                              I make my own, but like to have something on the shelf. I don't think Rao's will be it. I've had Newman's a few times and thought it better.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                alkapal RE: Scargod Jun 23, 2009 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                i can't see ever paying $8 for rao's!

                                                                                                                                                                i like the newman's marinara, but i still doctor it with garlic and anchovies, maybe oregano (and basil, if i feel like it).

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                  jfood RE: Scargod Jun 23, 2009 04:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  interesting difference of taste.

                                                                                                                                                                  jfood would rather eat it plain than any of the Newman's products.

                                                                                                                                                                  To each his own.

                                                                                                                                                                  Like you jfood and mrs jfood each make a batch and then jfood cans them. Has about four more jars in the basement from the last sauce-fest.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: rizzo0904
                                                                                                                                                                  sisterfunkhaus RE: rizzo0904 Jan 13, 2010 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  No. It is incredibly overrated and overpriced as far as I'm concerned. I have tried it more than once. I like Barilla roasted garlic with those HUGE chunks of garlic for about $7.50 less. Sometimes I buy Muir Glen garlic garlic. I rarely buy marinara.

                                                                                                                                                                3. stricken RE: michael23 Jun 24, 2009 03:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  RAO, RAO, RAO...I could drink it over ice. I love it so much!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. h
                                                                                                                                                                    howaboutthat RE: michael23 Jun 24, 2009 06:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Victoria Marinara.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. LeahBaila RE: michael23 Jun 24, 2009 07:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I love the plain/original versions of the following:


                                                                                                                                                                      1. j
                                                                                                                                                                        judka RE: michael23 Jul 5, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Have always been partial to Classico...doesn't have that overly sweet after taste that Ragu and Prego have. Just discovered Trader Joe's sauces and like them as well (prices are great).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. alkapal RE: michael23 Jul 6, 2009 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          favorite sauce is not trader joe's roasted garlic marinara sauce. 'twas heavy and dull tasting.

                                                                                                                                                                          i'm finding it easier and better just to add to a can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes minced garlic, sauteed onions, evoo, herbs and sometimes roasted eggplant. i'm really happy with this "tuttorosso" brand i get at harris teeter, and usually i stock up when they have a great sale price. http://www.redgold.com/tuttorosso/pro...

                                                                                                                                                                          it ends up being better than half the cost of the prepared, jarred sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                          i see that the products are packed by "red-gold" company, and available on the east coast (though you could order online) >>"" Tuttorosso canned tomato products can be found in major supermarkets in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington DC. "<<<

                                                                                                                                                                          1. a
                                                                                                                                                                            Andromeda RE: michael23 Jan 13, 2010 07:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Prego Marinara. The regular pasta sauce is horriblely sweet, but the Marinara is good.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Perilagu Khan RE: michael23 Jan 14, 2010 06:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Tony's from St. Louis.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. j
                                                                                                                                                                                Jaymes RE: michael23 Jan 21, 2010 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                For my money, the "Mom's" brand line is far and away the best. No sugar, no added weird ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                All of the Mom's are fabulous, but I like the original basil and garlic, and the puttanesca the best.


                                                                                                                                                                                Read the reviews - nothing but raves.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Ruth Lafler RE: michael23 Jan 21, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Not marinara, but I opened up a jar of Muir Glen Organic Italian Sausage with Peppers Pasta Sauce last night and it was pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                    pizzah RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 21, 2010 07:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree with "Jaymes" above - #1 is Mom's, especially the original and the puttanesca, hands down. The sauces are outstanding. #2 - Alessi's line and 3rd Cento's San Marzano line. Yum.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. p
                                                                                                                                                                                    plano lou RE: michael23 May 20, 2010 05:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've been using the Mario Batali arrabiata when I feel up to spending $8+ on pasta sauce. He uses San Marzano tomatoes and so few ingredients....it's super. Usually I just make my own...that way I can throw every conceivable vegetable I like in it. :)

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