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Sep 25, 2012 08:01 PM

Rao's Marinara.... I don't get it? tell me why you love it/what am I missing

Well after reading about how swell this is, I finally reached up to that top shelf in the store and shelled out 10 bucks for a bottle of sauce (my frugal mother is somewhere out in the Ether clutching her spectral chest a la Fred Sanford lol).

And it's... okay. Certainly less corn-syrup-sweet than most of the prepared tom sauces out there. Texture is good, you can see and feel vegetables. Not overly salted like many commercial sauces. More oil than I usually want. No notable fresh flavor; very commercially-cooked essence; I don't think I could pick it out of a sauce lineup. Spices not really forward. I tried it cold from the jar x2, warmed alone x2, over some rather dry lasagne, and with sausage-and-peppers.

I wanted this to be BAM/POW; something easy to toss some holiday meatballs in for Christmas dish, etc. But when I buy prepared sauce, it's generally Tom Thumb (a.k.a. Safeway), <$2 on sale. Fresher taste and better spicing. I can't find a reason to try Rao's again.

What have I missed? What strikes you about this stuff?

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    1. Ah, the love of Bigger! Bolder! Flavor! An American disease (which is getting worse as Baby Boomers age and find their sense of taste fading, and seek for chillies and bold spicing to remedy the problem; also the corrosive effect on the palate that arises from sustained exposure to heavily process foods....). Rao's is subtle. That's what people love it for, in an ocean of Bigger! Bolder! Flavor!

      I get my 24 oz jars for $5 a few times a year on sale at a couple of local supermarkets.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        Lol, thanks for diagnosing my American illness Karl. I actually still can taste subtle flavors; BAM/POW referred more to wanting an exceptional flavor (and the blandest cream can be exceptional) that justifies the cost, rather than Scoville Units or herb overload.

        Appreciate your input. :)

        1. re: DuchessNukem

          OK. Rao's Marinara has a wonderfully distilled and unusually balanced (almost perfectly balancing the acidity and natural sweetness) taste of tomatoes, unhindered by spices getting in the way - at most, one might had a hint of very finely ground red pepper just before serving to brighten it up further. It's a most beautiful thing, typically hard to find in supermarkets otherwise. (Many lesser sauce makers cover up the unbalanced flavor of their tomatoes by their spicing. One can always choose to tear up some fresh basil leaves over Rao's...) One can eat it without pasta, it's that good. The premium for it can be managed by carefully watching for sales. (e.g, up in my neck of the woods, it's $5 through tomorrow at Stop & Shop).

          1. re: Karl S

            Beautiful, dude. (I seriously do appreciate the input -- and your further detailed response.) I agree with your evaluation of acidity and sweetness, did find much less over-sweetening than typical commercial sauces.

            I am considering setting up a comparison tasting for myself now.

      2. Honestly, I prefer Michaels of Brooklyn. Best jarred sauce ever with only 5-7 ingredients. The Arrabiata and Puttanesca are great and the Arrabiata is basically how I make my homemade, so a time saver for me in a pinch that still tastes like I made it.

        1. I have not purchased their sauce, nor been to Rao's. But I have seen members of the Rao family making their sauce on various TV shows and rapidly concluded that their style of tomato sauce is far too acidic for me. I don't enjoy a sauce that does not include onion and bell pepper, and preferably mushrooms as well. If memory serves, Rao's has none of those. I don't want to get into an authenticity debate, just posted to support the OP's disappointment.

          1. I don't get the hype, it's really not that good and overpriced. At a local market they have fresh tomato sauce if I want to splurge and make something quick-it's only $6. And it's damn good but a slightly smaller container.