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San Marzano brands?

Sorry for the repeat of this post. I think I posted it under the wrong section -- I'm still new at this.
I keep hearing how wonderful San Marzano tomatoes are so I purchased a can, thinking there is only one brand. It is by Carmelina. Then my local grocery store started carrying Dell' Alpe San Marzano tomatoes. Is one brand better than the other? What should I be looking for?
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
Laurie

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  1. These are my favorite...
    http://www.thenibble.com/REVIEWS/MAIN...

    1 Reply
    1. re: irishnyc

      Not that it makes them less, but l believe these are San Marzano tomatoes, grown and packaged in USA.

    2. San Marzano refers to an area in Italy where the tomatoes are grown, and where the soil and the local variety make for something pretty special (though tomatoes grown elsewhere in Italy can be fantastic, as well.) There are any number of "labels", some with "certificates" of authenticity, some without. In the U.S., some packagers are using the San Marzano wording for California grown tomatoes as if it were a tomato variety, which it is not, as far as I know, and I think it's deceptive. (Note to irishnyc, your favorite as posted in the image is in fact from California.) Other packagers often write "San Marzano" type, with the word "type" often in smaller letters...Just check to see if the tomatoes are a product of Italy...

      2 Replies
      1. re: penthouse pup

        San Marzano is an heirloom variety of tomato. Here are three different types of San Marzanos for which you can buy the seeds from a US company.
        http://store.tomatofest.com/SearchRes...
        Another US company: http://growitalian.com/Qstore/Qstore....

        This variety has been traditionally grown in Campania in Italy and the Italian government has granted tomatoes packed in that area its certification DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, the Italian equivalent of Protected designation of origin.)
        The identical San Marzano heirloom tomato is grown in other areas in Europe and the US. It can be grown successfully at the same latitude with the same growing conditions.
        There are quality S. Marzanos from CA that are the equal of, and some which are better than, Italian brands.

        1. re: penthouse pup

          The brand that Irishnyc mentions uses San Marzano seeds, Just talked to them at Fancy Food Show regarding this.

        2. Brands that are D.O.P. are certified and grown in a specific region of Italy. Those that are not may be San Marzano tomatos or other similar plum tomatos grown out side of the region. Many brands offer both D.O.P. and non certified maters. Cento and Nino brands are popular in my area.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Fritter

            Thanks for the information, correcting what I wrote earlier about "deceptive" practices...it's a lot like varietal grapes and wine-making...pinot noirs from California are different than pinot noirs from Burgundy, and along with technique, it's also about soil...

            1. re: penthouse pup

              Yeah, and sometimes there's a great pinot from CA, and a mediocre one from Burgundy.
              Tomatoes are agricultural products, subject to variation, even heirloom S. Marzanos, wherever they are grown or packed.

          2. I'm in New England. I use the Sclafani brand of Italian San Marzano tomatoes, in paste. I have yet to find a brand that is as tasty.

            1. Hooked for life. I've grown one of the cultivars, but these D.O.P's keep me coming back.

              http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano.html

              1. I've been very happy with the Vantia brand. http://www.ibfoods.com/store/item.asp...

                A local Italian grocer here in Boston sells them for $2.50 a can when you buy them by the case.

                Check out also this lengthy thread on the topic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/351272

                1. I like La Valle the best
                  http://www.capriflavors.com/index.php...

                  1. I use Pastene.

                    http://www.pastene.com/

                    Would like to get opinions on these compared to others.

                    1. I prefer *DOP San Marzanos* from La Valle, Strianese, or Colucchio, with La Valle being my favorite.

                      I find the "San Marzano" tomatoes (some are DOP, some are not) from Cento, De Cecco, Muir, Pastene, Rienzi, Sclafani, and Tutto Rosso to be somewhat inferior to my favorites listed above.

                      Haven't yet tried the ones pictured by irishnyc above (I believe the brand name is actually "San Marzano Tomatoes"!), but I've heard good things about 'em. And yes, they're grown in the USA.

                      FWIW, Cook's Illustrated likes Progresso's non-DOP San Marzano tomatoes as a cheaper alternative.

                      And, don't forget about the king of canned tomatoes, Il Miracolo di San Gennaro. I have not tried these yet, because I can't afford them!!

                      http://www.gustiamo.com/cgi-bin/front...
                      http://www.google.com/search?&q=m...
                      .
                      .

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Joe Blowe

                        Beatrice's prices at Gustiamo have always been astronomical. Her tomatoes are wonderfuk but not IMHO above most of the better San Marzanos out there. She had at one point a jar of cooked cherry tomatoes that were nice and sold wholesale at $ 26.00 WHOLESALE

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          That may be so, but it appears that the Miracolos are just plain expensive anywhere you can find 'em...

                          http://www.cubemarketplace.com/p-94-t...
                          .
                          .

                          1. re: Joe Blowe

                            Not implying she is overcharging at all, finds in her mind the best of everything Italian, and the price be damned.

                        2. re: Joe Blowe

                          Just tried Strianese for the first time, and San Marzano's for the first time. Made my quick marinara sauce, which came out really welll! I will be buying more of these for sure. They made an really good sauce. Bought them at Cal-Mart here in SF

                        3. One of the best deals online for "DOP San Marzano" tommatoes is at:

                          http://www.capriflavors.com/index.php...

                          1. San Marzano...it's not just the seed and the climate, it's the terroir. When the European Union declares certain products D.O.P. this is an effort to point out to the world that the particular product is grown in a particular soil in a specific climate and with the patrimonie of generations of families who have worked with that product and passed down the nuances of its unmatchable flavor and characteristics. Sure, San Marzano seeds can be planted with great results and great care in the U.S. and elsewhere. Nowhere else but Campania Italy will one find the exact combination of environmental and cultural factors that create the true, authentic D.O.P product such as this. Volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius in Campania Italy, generations of tomato growers with volumes of knowledge passed on, the sun shining at a specific angle on the mountainous slopes, the Campania mountain air. A D.O.P product is the pride and joy of a region and is worth seeking out. Just as the great D.O.P. cheeses, the true Prosciutto di Parma, the authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano and the great D.O.C. wines, they are worth the search. Sure there are grades of quality within the various producers of a D.O.P. product but overall D.O.P. is a mark of authenticity of the original terroir grown product.

                            In the NY/NJ market, ShopRite Supermarkets just came out with their own brand of D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes from Compania Italy. Each can is individually numbered and the flavor is outstanding. The same soil yields delicious canned cherry tomatoes packed under the same label.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ruffo

                              In total agreement! Much like Vidalia onions, you can grow the same plants from the same seeds in different areas, but it comes down to the environment that the plants grow in. Now, I'm not saying that California grown "San Marzanos" aren't good. They are wonderful. But DOP San Marzanos are from Campania where they have been growing for ages.

                              1. re: ruffo

                                Considering how many people are buying DOP San Marzanos, it would be remarkable that they could all be the real thing considering that production of San Ms is actually declining in Campania.
                                "In the 1980s, this region was the number one for peeled tomatoes production in Italy. Now, Campania is the 4th or 5th produced with 35% of the peeled tomatoes grown in Italy. Production of typical S.Marzano variety in Campania is declining at a rate of about 12-16% a year. The concern is that the San Marzano tomato will disappear from the Campania region."
                                It's being replaced by F1 hybrid plums. http://www.sgn.cornell.edu/documents/...

                                Does the DOP signify where they come from or where they're packed rather than the San Marzano itself?
                                Are consumers getting what they think they're getting from DOP designation?

                                Market demand has exceeded the ability of a small region to produce, and fewer of the tomatoes grown are true heirloom S. Marzanos. The tomatoes in the can may be grown in Campania, but the puree may be from somewhere else....

                                If it's necessary to do genetic testing to tell the difference in the tomatoes themselves, do you really think you can tell the difference after they've been simmered for hours in a sauce with many other ingredients?
                                You might do just as well paying less for S. Marzanos grown and packed in California. Many good cooks happily do.

                                The Italian DOP designation is "branding." Think of it as one brand of tomatoes among many.
                                In the US, we have Vidalia Onions, but we also have Walla Walla Sweets and Maui Onions, all of which are justly famous and supposedly owe their distinctive taste to their "terroir." Is there a big difference among them other than local pride and "branding?"

                              2. King's Food Markets in New Jersey have La Valle San Marzanos 28oz on sale 2 cans for $4.00
                                I usually get the 35oz cans at Somerset Farms for $2.99

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Nunzio

                                  That's an outstanding price on La Valle! Here in SoCal, they usually run close to $4 each for a 28 oz. can ...

                                  1. re: Nunzio

                                    I don't think those are genuine DOP San Marzano tomatoes. I buy cans of La Valle tomatoes regularly from Kings and recently noticed that the "San Marzano" banner is no longer on the label. The only true San Marzano tomatoes actually grown in the San Marzano region (not elsewhere) have the DOP designation on the label as well. La Valle does offer DOP San Marzanos, but you'll need to check the label closely.