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REAL San Marzano canned tomatoes

Benedetto Jan 13, 2011 10:35 AM

Hello All,

Does anyone know why it is all of a sudden so hard to find REAL San Marzano canned tomatoes? I used to get them through Fresh Direct (Cento brand) but they seem to be harder to find now. Eataly doesn't even carry the real thing. Hmmmm......

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Eataly
200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

  1. g
    GLAG Jan 13, 2011 11:00 AM

    I buy them at Costco under the brand Name "NINA" I get the restaurant size can (Whole Peeled Tomato's in Puree) for about $3.50, I don't think you will every find a Cheaper San Marzano Canned tomato

    2 Replies
    1. re: GLAG
      f
      ferret Feb 4, 2011 10:50 AM

      You can't do any better than the Costco deal. You get a #10 can for the same price (or less) than most places charge for 28 oz.

      1. re: ferret
        coll Feb 4, 2011 11:34 AM

        Nina is not DOP. Not saying they're bad.

    2. BklynBlaise Jan 13, 2011 11:59 AM

      You can get La Valle brand San Marzano tomatoes at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market for only $2.25 for the 28oz cans. It's my favorite brand and one of the more consistent ones. Buon Italia often has the best prices for various Italian goods.

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      Buon Italia
      75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      6 Replies
      1. re: BklynBlaise
        erica Feb 4, 2011 02:47 AM

        Are you certain that the LA Valle cans for $2.25 have the actual DOP seal on the can?

        Or do they merely say "San Marzano?"

        There are many cans that claim to be San Marzano, including some from California. Far fewer are the actual San Marzano DOP. I buy San Marzano DOP at Teitel in the Bronx for about $3.49 and have never seen them less expensive in Manhattan.

        1. re: erica
          coll Feb 4, 2011 05:01 AM

          La Valle has both, the real stuff has a yellow ribbon that says DOP on it. All canned in the Naples region though.

          1. re: coll
            erica Feb 4, 2011 07:12 AM

            Yes, I like their tomatoes, especially the cherry tomatoes. But I question whether Buon Italia can possibly be selling a can of the "real" ones, with the seal, for such a low price--sounds too good to be true. I think many people are confused by the labeling of these tomatoes--just the words "San Marzano" are no guarantee that they even come from Italy..

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            Buon Italia
            75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

            1. re: erica
              m
              MikeG Feb 4, 2011 07:45 AM

              I suspect BrooklynBaise is writing from prior experience, though I agree that price seems too low for the DOP version at any time. But within the past year (?) or so, the EU changed its regs and now only the DOP version can say "San Marzano" on the label at all. LaValle's, and other EU companies', regular lines are now called just "Italian peeled tomatoes", but a rose by any other name... is still a great tomato at a decent price. ;) I assume the EU reg won't change anything on US-made product labels, but I don't know how our labelling laws mesh, if at all, with others'.

              1. re: MikeG
                erica Feb 4, 2011 01:38 PM

                Interesting--I did not know that! I think it is a good move, as there was much confusion..

        2. re: BklynBlaise
          z
          zeedzard Apr 8, 2011 09:28 PM

          San Marzano Tomato Sauce Makes about 2 cups This is a quick, fresh tasting sauce, not the kind that has to sit all day long on the back burner
          http://cooktopstovesreviews.com

        3. b
          Breezychow Jan 13, 2011 12:04 PM

          I'm really surprised that you're having trouble finding them. I'm in a far more secluded area than Manhattan (Culpeper, VA), & can find them easily (yes, the REAL ones) in any of the higher-end markets. Around here that would be Whole Foods, Wegman's, sometimes even Safeway. In fact, sometimes even the regular markets have them because they've become so popular on all the tv cooking shows.

          1. c
            chimay5 Jan 13, 2011 12:27 PM

            In the same vain, Progresso was always the favorite tomato brand for making pasta sauce in our family. I think they originally used San Marzano and often included a whole basil leaf in the can. Progresso has disappeared, except for canned soup, and we've been searching for a good replacement.
            Any suggestions would be appreciated.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chimay5
              coll Feb 4, 2011 05:03 AM

              Progresso olive oil was all I and my family used until that too disappeared, at least 20 years ago. For some reason I think they were bought out by, I don't know, someone like Proctor and Gamble and that's when everything went bye bye. For tomatoes I only use LaValle, either DOP or regular. I seem to remember Mom using Tuttarosa way back when, I think that's still around.

              1. re: coll
                m
                Mayor of Melonville Feb 4, 2011 08:13 AM

                Olive oil was the first product introduced by Progresso in the early 20th century. The company was bought out by Pillsbury in 1996, which was later acquired by General Mills. Olive oil was a casualty of the mergers.
                Progresso soup used to be one of my favorites, but now it's like Campbell's with myriad varieties, slick advertising, and higher pricetags.

                1. re: Mayor of Melonville
                  coll Feb 4, 2011 08:17 AM

                  At least they inspired me to learn to make nice simple homemade Italian soups. With little meatballs, tiny pasta and escarole in it.

            2. d
              Desidero Jan 13, 2011 01:51 PM

              I'm having the exact same problem. I usually buy Strianese whole peeled tomatoes at Raffetto's and the last few times I've stopped in, they've been out of them. Prior to the past few months, they've always had Strianese tomatoes in stock. What gives?

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              Raffetto's
              144 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

              1. loratliff Jan 13, 2011 02:33 PM

                Faicco's on Bleecker Street has every variety of them that you could imagine.

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                Faicco's
                260 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                1 Reply
                1. re: loratliff
                  f
                  foodwhisperer Feb 3, 2011 09:56 PM

                  Faicco's is where I usually go and it's right near Ottomanelli for more stuff. Citarella also has them

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                  Citarella
                  2135 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                  Faicco's
                  260 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                  Citarella
                  424 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                  Ottomanelli and Sons
                  285 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                2. 5
                  5busyrussells Feb 3, 2011 05:49 AM

                  I am in the Saratoga Springs, NY area - but have been experiencing the same problem. Several stores have notes posted where the San Marzano tomatoes are stocked, indicating "temporarily unavailable." We don't have Whole Foods here, so I'll have to try Fresh Market or Roma's Italian Imports and if I find them - buy a bunch! They are the only tomatoes I use to make a deliciously simple fresh sauce - and I've tried substituting "Italian plum tomatoes" of several brands, but the flavor is not the same.

                  1. m
                    MikeG Feb 4, 2011 04:54 AM

                    They've moved them from their old shelf spot at Fairway on Broadway & 74th, but I'm pretty sure I saw DOP San Marzanos there recently. DiPalo often/usually has them but you never know what's going to be on their shelves on any given day, so call ahead.

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                    Fairway Market
                    2127 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: MikeG
                      coll Feb 4, 2011 05:08 AM

                      I didn't see any at Fairway in Plainview now that I think of it, luckily I didn't need any so it didn't strike me til now. Probably just getting too popular, they can only produce so much. I haven't heard anything about a shortage or import problems lately.

                      1. re: MikeG
                        u
                        uwsgrazer Feb 4, 2011 09:25 AM

                        Yeah, I noticed that too when I was at Fairway recently. I was in kind of a rush and I just grabbed a couple of cans. I figured they were there in addition to, and not in lieu of, the other place. I guess maybe I was hoping they were a *special* brand because i thought they were located near all the olive oil varieties.

                        The cans I bought are bit odd. They are clearly marked "San Marzano" but the wrapping almost makes it look like a generic brand (though I don't think it is). At $2.99 / 28 oz. I'm hoping it's not.

                        1. re: uwsgrazer
                          m
                          MikeG Feb 4, 2011 09:51 AM

                          Are they imported? There's a California product whose "brand name" is, I think, "San Marzano." I usually just go straight to the LaValle so I may not have noticed a label change in the other brand, but the one I mean is a US product with a spare, bold-color on white label that always struck me as more generic than distinctive. I've never tried them, Fairway's own canned tomatoes are fine, but I still prefer LaValle non-DOP.

                          At 74th St, they seem to have moved the LaValle tomatoes over to where the British stuff used to be, geographically sort of in between the rotisserie chicken ovens and the fresh pasta case. I hope they're not phasing them out!

                          1. re: MikeG
                            u
                            uwsgrazer Feb 4, 2011 10:47 AM

                            That's strange. I wrote a pretty lengthy reply to your message, but it's not showing up now. Annoying! Anyway, the can indicates that the tomatoes are grown locally. I hope my earlier reply surfaces somehow. I actually wrote more stuff, including that about a month ago Pioneer apparently had a sale on Cento tomatoes: a buck a can (28 oz). A knowledgeable and *picky* friend deemed them to be very good quality

                      2. loratliff Feb 4, 2011 09:52 AM

                        FreshDirect has them again... $3.49/28 oz.

                        Although, I will say: in an effort to (literally) save a buck last week, I bought the La Squisita brand and I liked them just as much. Might be worth a try if you're still having trouble finding San Marzano.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: loratliff
                          m
                          MikeG Feb 4, 2011 11:25 AM

                          No comment on their quality, but those are a domestic product, despite the Italian on the label. If the new EU regs applied to them, they couldn't call their product "San Marzano" anymore, even if the tomatoes are the same variety.

                          I noticed FD does have Bel Aria "San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese-Nocerino (DOP)" tomatoes, but at twice their regular product's price. Until fairly recently, that "other product" could/might have also been labelled "San Marzano", just without the full DOP phrase.

                          1. re: MikeG
                            loratliff Feb 4, 2011 12:40 PM

                            They actually aren't labeled San Marzano; I was just surprised at how similar the taste and quality seemed to be to the real thing.

                          2. re: loratliff
                            b
                            Brian W Feb 5, 2011 10:13 AM

                            I'll keep that in mind. I tried a can of Carmolina tomatoes from Fairway once, when they were out of La Valle, and they were not very good.

                            1. re: Brian W
                              erica Feb 5, 2011 12:15 PM

                              Take a look at this video from Fairway! (the one marked "Robert Ivers")

                              http://wn.com/San_Marzano_tomato

                          3. l
                            Littleman Feb 4, 2011 12:13 PM

                            Call San Marzano Imports. They are located in NJ.

                            http://www.sanmarzanoimports.com/

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Littleman
                              b
                              bob96 Feb 6, 2011 06:34 PM

                              San Marzano Imports offer good tomatoes, but if the OP is looking for DOP San Marzano, these are not it. Most brands available in the NE US seem to come from one or 2 packers (Strianese, for one); the only key is to look for the DOP seal on any label.

                              1. re: bob96
                                erica Feb 7, 2011 02:41 AM

                                Thanks, Bob. From the comments here, it seems that even Chowhounders are really confused about this issue, not understanding that the words "San Marzano" mean next to nothing on a label without t he actual DOP seal.

                                1. re: erica
                                  erica Apr 9, 2011 04:05 AM

                                  If anyone is interested, there are many cans of DOP available along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Teitel charges $3.49; Borgatti charges about $3.70 for the Vantia brand DOP with the stamp. Looks like Todaro in Manhattan has these as well, for a higher price:

                                  http://todarobros.com/gourmet/vegetab...

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                                  Todaro Brothers
                                  555 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                            2. t
                              tspizzuco Mar 20, 2011 08:13 AM

                              Very Ironic as i was JUST discussing this with my mother. Used to get DOP stamped San Marzanos in both Shoprite and Wegmans. I live in south Jersey outside Philly. Both stores had them resonably priced over small Italian specialty shops. Past 3 weeks... they dont have the DOP stamp! Very strange. Many brands today say San Marzano, but the stamp / seal DOP is what to look for....

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tspizzuco
                                TravellingFoodie Apr 10, 2011 05:50 PM

                                I live in CT and the Whole Foods in West Hartford, CT has "San Marzano" canned tomatos, which are from California (!). I question a company that would not know how to check this fact and try to pass off California tomatoes as San Marzano. Beware of the Whole Foods brand!

                                1. re: TravellingFoodie
                                  erica Apr 11, 2011 05:00 AM

                                  If you are talking about that white can with the drawings of tomatoes on the label, it fooled me the first time. Technically I suppose they can be San Marzano tomatoes, since they are grown from San Marzano seeds but grown in California.

                                  There are many cans with the name "San Marzano" on the label. You must look for the seal. It can be a mine field out there!

                                  1. re: erica
                                    TravellingFoodie Apr 13, 2011 04:59 PM

                                    Yes, that's the one I am talking about, the white can with the tomatoes drawing. I don't think they can can be called San Marzano if they are not from Italy. I look not only for San Marzano, but the DOP label, also, to ensure authenticity. They are great canned tomatoes.

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