THE BEST STORE BOUGHT TOMATO SAUCES, RANKED
Tomato sauce has always been an absolute favorite food of mine. This is very likely the result of eating countless meals at Ralph's, the greatest Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. Now, living thousands of miles from that seminal establishment, I most frequently make do with store bought tomato sauce. These are worth eating.
- 1.Yellow Barn Biodynamic Tomato SauceThis stuff is incredible. I have no idea what the intrinsic value of biodynamic farming is, but if it is an actual contributing factor in making this other level great tomato sauce -- count me in. I have had the Roasted Eggplant and their Arrabbiata, and they're both truly excellent. If these guys didn't devote all of their time to making their product so delicious, maybe they could focus on the terrible brand name and unimaginably lame packaging. That said, this is the gold standard.
- 2.Mario Batali Tomato SauceI have no idea why, but I wasn't inclined to like this stuff at all. Don't know if I held it against this guy that he traveled through Spain with Gwyneth Paltrow on that Bourdain ripoff, but I couldn't wait to tear down this expansion of the Batali brand. Well, you can't. It's that good. I don't know if it's the San Marzano tomatoes, the fact there's no added sugar, or that it's made in a green facility; but it tastes great. I think the Tomato Basil is their best. The Arrabbiata is crazy hot.
- 3.Mom's Spaghetti SauceTalk about nerve. Who has the audacity to name a sauce Mom's? Well, these guys. And they largely back it up. If they could rein in the salt, this would be higher on the list. There are multiple whole cloves of garlic in each jar, along with a ton of basil and what seems like tomatoes picked that day. Added bonus, because of the whole ingredients, you could credibly throw this stuff in a pot and make the argument you made it from scratch -- not saying that I've ever done this.
- 4.Patsy'sNostalgia. That's what makes this stuff so great. There was a restaurant in the Philadelphia area that was rumored to have effectively stolen the famous Patsy's of New York recipe. (Don't worry, it wasn't Ralph's.) When, as an adult, I finally got to eat at Patsy's -- it was as if I was back in that unnamed restaurant. To now have that available for purchase at Erewhon, remarkable. Without those experiences, this stuff is probably just ok.
- 5.Rao'sThis is more of a ceremonial designation. To my knowledge, Rao's ushered in the era of the nine dollar tomato sauce. Before that, Classico and Newman's Own were the "high end" tomato sauces. Without Rao's, this list never exists. Therefore, they get this historical distinction. In a pinch, they're fine. But the others on this list have muscled them out. It was a good run, Rao's.