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ISO: Local - Best Canned Tomatoes for Italian Sauce

Hey guys - I have a mission, and I hope some chowhounds can help me.

My son, who has gone through hell & back again (gf's son was taken by her drug addict-ex, who lied to the court, etc. & it took a yr of red tape to get him back), has asked me to make him (his words) a "huge vat of sauce." Now that things are finally at a pretty normal state with all of us, I guess he's craving the comfort food of his own youth - growing up, we always had sauce (Italian red sauce, known as gravy in *my* younger days) with everything in it.

He's chipping in what he can, but all of our moneys are tight right now - so I'm trying to find the best deals for my ingredients. And by best deals, I mean best quality for least amount of money, as I want this to be terrific for him, of course.

I think local sausages has pretty much been covered her on Chowhound - I figured I'd look at McKinnon's (I'd get the hamburg for the meatballs on the same trip of course), or take a look at DePasquale's in Newton (haven't been there, but it's close to me - I'm in Watertown now). I've already located the Marguerita Pepperoni - but I'm hoping I don't have to pay top dollar (translated: Stop & Shop price) for the canned tomatoes.

Usual brand we used (when my kids were little) was Pastene (my mom used it so there's a big nostalgia factor going on here), and my now passed away SO used to use 7-11 brand, which he'd get at restaurant supply places. I haven't seen this for a long time, and the place he used to purchase it is now gone.

So if anyone knows of someplace local selling either of those brands at a decent price (I don't have either a Costco or B.J.'s membership anymore), or if you want to share another brand that's good - I'd appreciate it. Otherwise, I guess I'll just bite the bullet & pay S & S or Shaw's prices. Ouch!

Thanks to all for any suggestions!

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  1. Well, you should check Market Basket first and always. The Chelsea mother ship is wonderful, and not too far from Watertown.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S

      I agree, Karl - but I checked the flyer online & tomatoes weren't on sale. The Chelsea mother ship wears me out!! Years ago I would have loved it, but now I don't shop for as many now that the chicks have (mostly) flown from their nests... and trying to find stuff there wears me out. It's harder because I'm not familiar with the layout of the store, and there's so much there..

    2. I'd say go for Parmalat in boxes, but too bad you just missed all really good tomatoes that are really local this summer.

      6 Replies
      1. re: tatsu

        Yeah, tell me about it. If only he had mentioned of this a month ago. Well, I did have a tomato "garden" this year. I put it in quotes because my tomatoes were so sad...so very sad... that I don't think it qualified for garden-status.

        I would think Parmalat would be too expensive. I need a couple of gallons at least.

        1. re: threedogs

          I don't think local tomatoes have been that great this season. Too much rain. Bad for sauce. Last year was a great season. Seasons vary in quality. A lot.

          1. re: Karl S

            That's true - I've had really bad seasons back when I used to really garden. I didn't get a chance to use a good amt of compost this year (and my heart wasn't really in it, either), so I was thinking that was why. Planted some canning tomatoes but they tasted super bland.

            1. re: Karl S

              I would check Russos for reasonable priced bulk canned tomatoes for sauce starter.

              My tomatoes garden is fantastic this year. The bumper crop is still bearing lots of fruit and the late season harvest particularly tasty. I switched to Earth Boxes this year to fantastic results. I am going to leave in the ground for flowers going forward. All veg gardening will be in the boxes.

            2. re: threedogs

              This is not a sure thing, but if you live near an Ocean State Job Lot with a decent food section, I've found on occasion the Parmalat boxed tomatoes for about $1.50-$2 / box. I try to grab a box or two whenever I see it.

              1. re: threedogs

                While, sauce from fresh tomatoes is great, if he is really craving the nostalgic sauce of his youth, stick with the canned such as Pastene Kitchen-Ready.

            3. depasquales is the best in the area. tell maria "box of sweet" and she will box up 5 pounds of real fresh italian sausage for under 20usd. they have a lot of canned tomatoes, but i am unsure of how much of a "deal" they are .i keep my eye open at s&s and buy tuttorosso when they are on sale.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hyde

                Sounds great, hyde! That's a good price for sausage. I used to stock up on tomatoes when they were on sale - but I haven't made sauce in ages. Got away from it. Lesson learned - they keep, of course!

              2. Market Basket has great prices but so does Russo's in Watertown. The store is packed and you have to look on the shelves below the fresh produce. I can't really recommend a brand because I"m all over the map and just doing fresh now (and they are still around)....maybe someone else can recommend a brand sold at Russo's. I read about the "6 in 1" brand on chowhound home cooking and bought a can at russo's but haven't tried it yet.

                One trick for getting in more flavor from canned plum tomatoes is to take them out of the liquid and broil or roast them to get a little bit of charred flavor in. I'd also suggest searching and posting on the home cooking board. S&S and Shaw's often have sales on canned tomatoes but I think Market Basket will always have the best every day price.

                good uck to your family. sounds like an awful situation. For me, homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese does it.

                1. long ago i did an extensive search for best canned plum tomatoes. i still stand by that outcome- Pastene imported Italian Plum Tomatoes. I do get the large #10 6 lb cans at BJ's (you don't have to have a membership; you can get a pass for one day, and also we rcve, regularly in the mail, 6 week passes. For a few yrs i would make enormous batches of marinara w/ bushels of plum toma. from verrill farms, but honestly, i am just as happy with the Pastene version i make.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Did you record the brands you tried, OC? Would love to know, if you did!