Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 17, 2007 09:13 AM

Who makes great Italian Sausage?

I'm looking for great Italian Sausage to grill at home. I like a pork based sausage, somewhat coarsely-ground (not smooth), assertively seasoned, with fennel, like you could find on the East Coast, such as outside Fenway Park or in NY/NJ.

Preferably, the sausage will stand-up to braising in a red sauce as well.

Who makes your favorite sausage?

I've tried Columbus, Molinari, New Youk Sausage (Safeway/Costco), Caggiano, Schaubs, Café Rouge and Johnsonville. Any other ideas?

Any hot dog stands or restaurant suggestions welcomed as well.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: Morton the Mousse

      Second that. They are NOT East Coast derivatives so they may not be what the OP is looking for.

      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        Fra'Mani is delicious. Highland Hills Farm (sold at the Berkeley farmer's markets) makes a good Italian sausage too, but it is more finely ground and subtley flavored.

      2. The housemade sausages -- including both "sweet" and "spicy" Italian -- at Baron's meats are very good. Two locations, one at the Alameda Marketplace and one at the Star Market in Berkeley.

        Baron's Meat & Poultry
        1650 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

        Star Meats
        3068 Claremont Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          If Alameda is convenient for the OP, I like the sweet Italian at Scalise's in the Encinal Market also, and it is one of the rare items in their case I think is reasonably priced.

          Out further, I like the sausage selection at Lunardi's in is it, Pleasant Hill? Concord?

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            At Baron's the other day they also had "sweet" chicken Italian -- I thought it was pretty good, with a distinct fennel flavor.

          2. I use either Fra'Mani (available at numerous stores throughout town) or the house brand at Bi-Rite, the small grocery on 18th near Guerrero in the Mission. I tend to crumble and fry with broccoli rabe or tomatoes and onions rather than grill or braise whole, so I can't speak to the texture.

            4 Replies
            1. re: david kaplan

              Speaking of, I love Bi-Rite's new Devil's Gulch Ranch sausage. I met the Devil's Gulch owner at a Bi-Rite wine event several months ago and was impressed with his knowledge of and commitment to quality ranching. I cooked some of the sausages as a side dish and in a frittata last week and my guests were quite impressed.

              1. re: pane

                Is Devil's Gulch Ranch what Bi-Rite now sells in two-sausage packages in the fridge section just to the right of the deli counter? I referred to those packages as their house brand, but now I wonder if we're talking about the same or different products.

                1. re: david kaplan

                  Different products, and, yes, DGR are the two-sausage packs in the fridge section. Try them and let me know what you think.

                  1. re: pane

                    I guess that's what I had most recently and liked them very much. Bi-Rite used to have bulk sausage in the deli counter, and apparently they've replaced that with those two-sausage packs, so I think DGR is now the only fresh sausage Bi-Rite carries.

            2. Housemade from Little City in North Beach, especially the spicy one.

              Edited to add: also the homemade Italian sausage from Valley Ford Market.

              Little City Market
              1400 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

              2 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Could not agree more, the house made sausage at LIttle City in North Beach are some of the best. The Calabrese are the one which are a bit on the hot side. The Sicilian are coursely ground with good black pepper and a touch a wine I believe.

                Somebody mentioned Lucca Ravioli in the Mission - they sell the brand "New York Style". They are not house made. It is a passable sausage, but not one of the best in the area.

                While the South Bay was not known for its great cuisine, there used to be an old fashioned market down in SJ called Badalamente Market which made the type of Italian Sausage that you are seeking - I believe they even used to carry it at Lunardi's Markets although I have not been in 10 years or more.

                1. re: poulet_roti

                  Agree that Lucca's cannot compete among the best in the area, but their sweet fennel sausage seems like what the OP is looking for. It's hard to find East Coast style Italian products here. Having read Calvin Trillin's musings on the NY-style Italian sausage sandwich, I wonder if this is something like a good bagel, you can't find it here...

              2. I think the hot sausage that Trader Joe's sells is pretty darn good. It is certainly a good value for what they charge ($2.99 a pound)..

                11 Replies
                1. re: DavidT

                  I never see pork-based sausage at Trader Joe's, and I have made a point of looking many times. I exclusively see chicken and turkey sausages. If you're finding pork sausage at TJ's, which one?

                  I really like the Caggiano sausages I've tried. I bought some Prather Ranch Jameson Whisky sausages yesterday that I haven't tried yet.

                  1. re: Atomica

                    All of the Bay Area Trader Joe's carry their own brand of both hot and sweet varieties of pork Italian sausage made by New York Sausage Co. They are in the refrigerated meat dept. I don't know whether they still sell it, but they've also sold a version of this sausage that also includes cheese and wine.

                    1. re: Nancy Berry

                      Don't say "all." Believe me, Nancy, I have looked. The refrigerated meat department is pretty much my main stop (to see if I can get the increasingly elusive unmarinated tri-tip). I even remember past Chowhound posts asking incredulously why one cannot get pork sausage at TJ's. I will try again, I suppose.

                      1. re: Atomica

                        They might run out of these sausages, Atomica, but they all carry them. Ask at the front desk.

                        1. re: Nancy Berry

                          I just purchased raw pork sausages, one pack of hot and one of sweet, from TJ's in Emeryville. About $2.80 for a pack of 5.

                        2. re: Atomica

                          I always see them at the Trader Joe's on 9th and Bryant. Like DavidT says below, they often have different kinds. I've only had the spicy Italian sausages from Trader Joe's....I prefer the ones at Lucca.

                          Dave MP

                          1. re: Atomica

                            Yesterday, at the Daly City TJ's in the Westlake Shopping Center, there were 4 kinds of pork Italian sausage, hot, sweet, Vino et Formaggio, and basil garlic.

                            1. re: Nancy Berry

                              I was at the Trader Joe's at 9th and Bryant in SF last night and saw the same 4 kinds.

                              Dave MP

                              1. re: Nancy Berry

                                Okay, I was at the Daly City TJ's yesterday and, after looking really hard, found 3 kinds of pork sausage among the 20 or more types of chicken and turkey sausage. And of course they were out of almost all of the pork. They also have done away with the great tri-tip they were carrying in favor of a far inferior Australian tri-tip.

                            2. re: Nancy Berry

                              Just wanted to mention that New York Sausage Co. products are often available at deep discount at Grocery Outlet.

                            3. re: Atomica

                              I buy the pork-based sausage regularly at the TJ's on Masonic@Geary. They usually have a hot, a regular and a wine/cheese variety. I don't look to see if it is in stock every time I go there (usually once a week), but it has always been in stock every time I have looked for it.