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The Great Jersey Tomato Sauce Taste-Off

I know most of us, especially in NJ, make rather than buy our pasta sauces. Still, every once in a while, circumstances dictate otherwise. NJ.com just completed a taste-off pitting various marinara sauces, both those made in NJ and made by New Jerseyans, against the rest for the informal title of best Jersey Tomato Sauce.

I have to admit, I hadn't heard of or seen any of these. Most are in limited markets within the state.

That said, I'm planning on checking out the winner.


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  1. My favorite store bought sauce is Don Pepino....!!


    4 Replies
    1. re: Tapas52

      Which wasn't in the Taste-off; have you tried any of the NJ taste-off sauces?

      1. re: mcsheridan

        no I don't intend to...as I 99% make my own sauce at home....nothing for me compares in a jar. But I'm curious to see the taste off results.

        1. re: Tapas52

          It's all in the linked article. Nanina's in the Park's Marinara won.

      2. re: Tapas52

        Don Pepino is by far the best sauce. It is canned not jarred.

      3. Are these made from New Jersey tomatoes? ... I'm skeptical, especially with regard to those available in volume year round (e.g. Bongiovi - "Jon Bon Jovi's Dad's pasta sauce"). The Jersey tomato season is so short -- basically from now to end of August.

        3 Replies
        1. re: drongo

          As you'll see in the article, some are made with NJ Tomatoes, some by well known NJ catering halls and restaurants from San Marzano tomatoes. The one with the most tenuous and somewhat controversial New Jersey connection is the Real Housewives entry - which is imported from Italy.

          According to their taste-off panel, as wonderful as in-season New Jersey tomatoes are, they don't make the best sauce as compared to San Marzano tomatoes.

          In any case, if you could find a sufficient source for New Jersey tomatoes, you could put up enough sauce to sell commercially, year-round. Just not on a national scale.

          1. re: mcsheridan

            OK, sorry.., I saw "The Great 'Jersey Tomato' Sauce Taste-Off" but it's really "The Great Jersey 'Tomato Sauce' Taste-Off".

            Personally, I'll pass on them all.

            1. re: drongo

              I'm hoping that someone will have tried one or more and chime in with their judgments.

          1. re: equal_Mark

            C'mon! You know Sunday gravy is only made in the home, preferably by an Italian nonna. :) Meatballs, sausages, braciole, and perhaps even pork ribs are involved.

          2. I know a few people who RAVE about the Hoboken Farms sauces...haven't tried them yet, but I love their sandwiches so if the sauce is using good ingredients like the shop is, I may need to try it!

            1. I've had the bonjovi sauce. When it came out they had tons of it in shoprite. It's Okay, definitely better then something like a prego, but it's nothing compared to a true homemade sauce. It's alright if your doing something like a quick pizza bagel or need some sauce real quick for a recipie, but I wouldn't pour a bunch of it over spaghetti

              1. any tomato sauce in a jar= YUK!

                1. I've had the Two Guys Jersey Tomato Sauce, I thought it was fine. Maybe I like "too much seasoning". ;-)

                  But since it was available (at ShopRite, and on sale), I bought a jar of Nanina's in the Park for comparison. Haven't used it yet, though.

                  I have made my own sauce, and frankly, some of the good jarred sauces are better. I don't have the patience to cook it down properly!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: njkori

                    Well, clearly this NJ.com article got a bit of attention; a few days after I posted this, I was in a local ShopRite looking for Nanina's Marinara sauce. However, that particular variety was wiped out on the shelves. I did find a jar of their Tomato & Basil (it was the only one left). I picked it up, but like you I haven't used it yet.

                  2. While not a "jersey sauce" the only store bought sauce I use when I do not have the time to make my own is Michael's of Brooklyn. It is great, just like nonna's. I also love that it is not full of chemicals and preservatives as well as sugar in some form. (like most all of the jarred sauces are) My favorites are the Fresh Tomato & Basil, and the Marinara. Naturally sweet, so no added sugar or HFCS, because it is made with DOP San Marzano tomatoes.