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Feb 3, 2008 12:25 PM

Cento versus Rao marinara sauce

I'm in college, so making my own marinara is not an option. I have heard good things about both of these brands, but I would love to hear which you all think is the better of the two. Thanks!

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  1. I know Rao's is supposed to be a great restaurant, but I spent over $7.00 a bottle on the Basil marinara and HATED the sauce. Way too heavy a hand with the herbs. I didn't think you could put too much basil into anything until I had to eat two jars of this stuff. I would look for Barilla, if you can find it. A little less expensive. But, try the Cento and see if you like it. Try the Raos, although it IS the one of the most expensive. Try a few before stocking up. Everyone has different tastes. You may find yourself adding a little garlic powder or basil or nothing at all, if you like it. I was surprised that I didn't like the Rao's, and there was nothing I could do to a sauce that had too much basil to improve its flavor except dilute it with unseasoned tomato sauce. I also have had good luck with Newman's and Central Market's house brand (they are an HEB), in a pinch. It may be that I prefer blander sauce that I can season a bit myself, so -- like I said, try a few before stocking up. You can manage some dried garlic and basil in your dorm -- not hard to stir in.

    1. Rao's is an A+ in jfood's book and he waits for a local store to sell two 32oz bottles for $10. He always has a few bottles in the pantry. He would rate Centos a solid B/B+. Not as good as Rao's but a nice alternative. The other two that jfood uses are Patsy's and Lidia's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        Agreed on Patsy's. Very good and often on sale.

        My coolege years were fuelled by Newman's Own. I had some the other day and it was much sweeter than I remember.

      2. I tried Rao's marinara for the first time last night. It's probably the best ready-made marinara I've ever had, although it is expensive ($8 locally). I concur with the advice to wait for a sale and then stock up.

        There are many affordable *good* to *very good* marinaras (marinari?) out there, though. In New York state, for instance, there's "Casa Visco", which is quite worthy. I remember "Real Torino" brand as inexpensive but good, although I haven't had it in a while. (Apparently, it's now called simply "Torino").

        Really, the key is to check the ingredients: if it contains good ingredients, it's probably good. If it contains crap, it's probably... well, crap ;)

        3 Replies
        1. re: NewYorkDave


          Not sure where you are in NY but if near Yonkers Stew Leonards evey few weeks places the 32oz Rao's on sale for $5. Jfood stocks up on the basement food room.

          1. re: jfood

            You're so lucky! It's $9.79 here in Pittsburgh! ... My sister gets hers for $6/jar on Arthur Ave in the Bronx.....

            1. re: QSheba

              just a head's up and there are both 24oz and 32oz bottles. some people think they are getting a deal for $7 for the 24oz.

              Other than Stew's the normal price in this area is $8-9 for the 32oz. yes probably the only deal in ffd county ct.