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Dec 8, 2008 02:21 PM

Store-bought Bolognese sauce?

Does anyone have any recommendations as to where to buy a really good store-bought Bolognese sauce, or some similar meat sauce [for pasta]? For some reason whenever I make one it's just never quite the same as the kind I get in restaurants. Most store-bought pasta sauces are no good - Rao's are ok but they don't do much in the way of really meaty sauce. Would have to be within the beltway, pref. within the District. Are there any brands sold at Whole Foods/Balduccis that are decent? Or does Vace do a decent meat sauce?

If anyone just generally knows a good brand for store-bought pasta sauces, fire away even if it's not bolognese as I'm always on the lookout for a good sauce in a bottle to pour over some pasta, even though that's hard to find.

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  1. If you were to venture to Baltimore you can find some great homemade sauces at Trinacria on Paca St.

    1. Call Vace in Bethesda and see if they carry it. It will be frozen but their sauces and other prepared foods are very good. I spent most of my life shopping the Italian Market in South Philly and normally cook everything from scratch. That said, I've got a Vace lasagna in meat sauce headed for the oven..

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ellen

        I think that Balducci's bolognese sauce in the jar is very good!
        Of course, not as good or meaty as homemade...
        but it has a great flavor and grape sized chunks of meat.
        It freezes well, too. I have plenty in the freezer right now.

      2. I'm reasonably certain that The Italian Store in Arlington sells plastic containers of various sauces for pasta. If so, one is likely to be a Bolognese sauce.

        The Italian Store is located in close-in Arlington at Lee Hwy and Spout Run.

        1. How are you making the bolognese? With red and white wine or are you using milk? There are many different recipes, but traditional bolgnese is meant to be a flavorful all meat sauce with very little tomato - just the essence of it. If you prefer more tomato, you can always add it. A store bought bolognese will never have the complexity that you are looking for that is found in a restaurant version. I recommend trying the recipe found in Lidia Bastianich's "Family Table" cookbook. It's very authentic and I think you will like it - it's not very hard to make - just time consuming. I just made the red/white wine version and I thought it was excellent. Good luck!

          4 Replies
          1. re: isabellaflynn

            There is also a really great and much less time consuming recipe (under 1 hour!) on cooks country ("weeknight bolognese sauce") that I have made and it is very good. They kick it up with some dried porcini's and pancetta. It uses milk. Unless it was a highly recommended speciality shop, I wouldn't touch a store bought sauce with a 10' pasta noodle...

            1. re: bnemes3343

              I've tried a couple different recipes...I don't like mushrooms so none of that, and I do like my sauce pretty tomatoey. The one that came closest I believe had ground meat, tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, carrots, and white wine. I don't know - I think I'm a decent cook and other things I've made have turned out pretty well but the bolognese just doesn't work right. I love the bolognese sauce at Pasta Mia so that would be something close to an ideal. I'm also overworked and lazy so I don't know if I would be up for using fresh tomatoes, etc.

              1. re: ViolentScarlet

                I love the bolognese from my very old copy of Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook. I actually found the recipe on line at

                It uses canned tomatoes, and is very good. I may have to make some this weekend. I also love the chicken fricasse (aka cacciatore) in the same cookbook. I never seem to get past those 2 recipes because I love them so much.

                1. re: sharonlouk

                  Thanks sharonlouk. I had been looking for a good bolognese recipe and read your post just before heading to the store this morning. So it's simmering on the stove now (I made a triple batch for freezing). Can't wait to try it.

          2. I think Victoria's sauces are the best store-bought sauces. You can buy them at Giant for about $7.00 a jar. I sometimes add a can of tomato paste to thicken the sauce a little.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ltdc

              Wow I had no idea there was a Vace in bethesda! I'll have to stop over.