I was so completely delighted to attend a tomato tasting at Razza Pizza Artigianale in lovely Jersey City a few weeks ago! The owners, Dan and Fred, are solid dudes and they truly care about their goodies — enough to invite a bunch of folks over to taste 11 different canned tomato products.
Everybody got a super-detailed scoring sheet, complete with grading rubric and helpful hints. All the cans were covered so we couldn’t see labels. Dan mashed all the can’s contents with an emersion blender and that was that.
He even put his own sauce into one of the cans to see how it held up against the rest. The results were pretty consistent with tomato tastings I’ve done before (2010 part 1, 2010 part 2, 2013) so that was comforting!
Cameo by Pizza A Casa's Mark Bello as Dan unveils the results!
1. Stanislaus Alta Cucina - 3.6 (a tomato from central CA, usually wins)
2. Ciao - 3.5 (Italian tomato found on the pies at Keste and Don Antonio in NYC, among others)
3. DiNapoli - 3.4 (lovely California tomatoes)
4. Escalon 6 in 1 - 3.28 (a crushed tomato product on the sweet side)
5. DaniCoop San Marzano DOP - 3.26 (Very good DOP tomato)
6. Razza’s Pizza Sauce - 3.23 (I LOVE that Dan included this!)
7. Jersey Fresh - 3.18 (another crushed product, I dig it)
8. Muir Glen - 3.1 (California organic product)
9. Cento San Marzano DOP - 2.76 (go-to supermarket availability)
10. Bianco DiNapoli - 2.1 (I love these, surprised the came in so low)
11. Teo - 2.04 (private label tomato from Chef’s Warehouse)
Tastings like this are important because the crop changes every year. If you’re struggling with your sauce, start by finding a tomato you like. The better the base, the less you have to do. Most NYC pizzerias use the Stanislaus Alta Cucina tomato, but that’s not available in stores unless you’re a restaurant. Good comparable tomatoes are the Trader Joe’s whole peeled variety (I used them on my pizza last night!), which you can get either salted or unsalted.
Big thanks to Dan and Fred and everyone over at Razza for having us! Best part after tasting all those tomatoes was having their delicious pizza! They’re hardcore about dough and natural fermentation, so DO NOT skip the bread when you go to Razza. EAT EVERYTHING YOU CAN!