Author Topic: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes  (Read 32465 times)

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Offline tjacks88

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DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« on: June 11, 2005, 09:02:29 AM »
I had a question regarding San Marzano tomatoes and the DOP designation.

Some have posted that the La Bella brand of San Marzano should be avoided. While I understand they are not marked DOP, does anyone know whether these are from the San Marzano region of Italy. I have used this brand several times and they have been outstanding - they are sweet, they tomatoes have all been high quality and fully ripened, and you could eat them straight out of the can they are so good. The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company carries them also, so I thought that gave them some credibility. I will be traveling to New Jersey in July and planned to visit the distributor listed on the web.

Also, has anyone used the Valle brand San Marzano DOP listed on Penn Macaroni's web site?

Thanks

Tom


Offline ebpizza

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2005, 10:02:11 AM »
I use LaBella all the time. They may not be DOP but they are good.

If you like 'em, use 'em. Each person has their own choice.

I have also used Valle brand San Marzano DOP. Very good.

However, the best tasting is LaRegina DOP. When I opened the can of tomatoes, they looked exactly like what I saw in Italy. The tomatoes were longer than other San Marzano's available here in the US.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 10:04:21 AM by ebpizza »

Offline tjacks88

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2005, 10:07:55 AM »
Thanks for the reply.

Do you know where I can buy La Regina?  I am actually going to use them more for my other Italian cooking besides pizza. I like the fresh and simple sauces that you find in Italy and like making them myself with the best tomatoes.

Thanks

Tom

Online Pete-zza

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2005, 12:21:20 PM »
Tom,

I agree with ebpizza one hundred percent. If you like a particular brand of San Marzanos, use them. I have also tried the LaValles, both DOP and non-DOP, and while they are both good, I don't think they are as good as the LaRegina DOPs.

When I did my original research on sources of San Marzano tomatoes, I spoke with the importer of the LaBella tomatoes, San Marzano Imports, and asked him if the La Bellas were DOP or not, and, if not, what was the difference? I couldn't get a straight answer out of him no matter how I tried to frame the question, and since there was a two-case minimum, I decided not to buy through him. If you go to the home page of the San Marzano Imports website, you will see the words "agro nocerino", which suggest that the tomatoes sold by San Marzano Imports are grown in the region that qualifies for the DOP designation. Unless the cans of tomatoes are clearly marked with the DOP designation and bear the seal of certification, I view the use of the words "agro nocerino" at the San Marzano Imports website as misleading. That doesn't mean that the LaBellas are no good. There are non-DOP San Marzanos that may even be better than some DOP versions. That is why it is important to do your own taste tests and make up your own mind, without being influenced by others whose tastes may differ from yours anyway.

Peter

Offline ebpizza

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2005, 05:06:04 PM »
Where do you live?

You can easily find them in the boston area in better Italian specialty shops.

try

Pace J & Sons Inc
325 Main Street, Saugus, MA 01906
(781) 231-9599

or

http://www.salumeriaitaliana.com/acb/showdetl.cfm?&DID=10&Product_ID=25284&CATID=6



« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 05:09:28 PM by ebpizza »

Offline tjacks88

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2005, 05:29:02 PM »
I live in Northern Colorado (I'm originally from New Jersey, and will be going home for a visit in July. That is where the importer of the La Bella brand is located that Peter references, so I plan to visit the store while I am there).

I'd like to try the La Regina brand locally if possible (even if that is Denver) to avoid the shipping charges.

Thanks

Tom

Offline ebpizza

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2005, 05:50:04 PM »
Contact the distributor directly to see if they have any retailers in the Denver area.
http://accardifoods.com/

LaRegina is their own imported brand.

Perhaps you can convince a local store to contact the distributor and have them carry their goods for you.


Good luck.

Offline tjacks88

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2005, 05:52:43 PM »
Thanks Peter, I appreciate all of the help.

Offline ebpizza

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2005, 05:59:03 PM »
Pete?

this is ebpizza ;-)

Offline tjacks88

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2005, 06:04:35 PM »
Sorry, I just replied to 4 different posts, most being to Peter (pete-zza) ???


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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2005, 09:46:50 PM »
I had a question regarding San Marzano tomatoes and the DOP designation.

Some have posted that the La Bella brand of San Marzano should be avoided. While I understand they are not marked DOP, does anyone know whether these are from the San Marzano region of Italy. I have used this brand several times and they have been outstanding - they are sweet, they tomatoes have all been high quality and fully ripened, and you could eat them straight out of the can they are so good. The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company carries them also, so I thought that gave them some credibility. I will be traveling to New Jersey in July and planned to visit the distributor listed on the web.

Thanks

Tom

I have been to the La Bella distributor in NJ.  I originally found them on the web when I first heard about "San Marzano" tomatoes;  before I found this site and learned of such things as "DOP" and "fake" San Marzanos.  I do like them, but find they have a distinctive "earthy" flavor when eaten straight out of the can.  I no longer use them for pizza sauce, but I do cook them down and use them for spaghetti sauce.  With meat (beef and sausage), onion, garlic, green pepper, parsley, herbs & olive oil, it is the best spaghetti sauce I ever made.  Since I have over a case of #10 cans left that'll last me for a few months based on our spaghetti consumption.

The first time I went to the importer I searched the address on Mapquest.  I followed the directions into a residential neighborhood and thought it must be a mistake.  However it's not, they store all the products in a garage next to their house.

They also sell an EVOO called Coluccio which is incredibly flavorful.  It's the best olive oil I've ever had.  However the last case I got was right at its expiration date and there was significant sediment in the bottles.  It didn't seem to affect the flavor, though, as it is still excellent.  The cost was $90 for a case of six 1 liter bottles, which I thought was a good price for an olive oil of this quality.  However (I'm using that word a lot), a friend recently reported that he saw it for sale in NYC Little Italy for about $13 a bottle.

So I guess the jury is out on the business practices of the La Bella importer (sanmarzanoimports.com). 

---Guy

...and one more thing, the first time I bought from them every can in one of the cases of tomatoes was bulging.  They did replace them with no hassle the next time I went, and even threw in a few samples of other products for my trouble.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 09:57:27 PM by PizzaBrewer »
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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2005, 09:54:20 PM »
...and one more thing, I posted earlier about the Escalon and Stanislaus products I recently found.  The Alta Cucina whole peeled tomatoes are probably the best canned tomato I've ever tried, including all the San Marzanos (DOP, non-DOP and fakes) I've had.  Available in food service #10 cans only thru a restaurant distributor.
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2005, 03:25:21 PM »
I sent the La Bella people an email about this issue:

>>Hi:  There's been quite a bit of discussion about your La Bella San Marzano tomatoes on the forum at www.pizzamaking.com.

For instance:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1252.0.html
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1476.0.html

I was wondering if you can clarify some of the questions, such as what is the difference between San Marzanos designated "DOP" and those that aren't?  Are your tomatoes grown in the "Dell' agro Sarnese Nocerino region"?

I'm sure you would be welcome to post on the chat board as many people are interested in the issue of San Marzano tomatoes.

Thank you.<<

...and here is the response I got:

>>Yes La Bella San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the agro nocerino area,however Viscardi La Bella San Marzano is an independent industry they have the highest quality of BRC standards and not a DOP.This BRC certification is
the highest standard quality and is a better certification then a DOP.DOP means that you will pay  20.00 to 25.oo more per case.You can view the BRC certification on our website www.sanmarzanoimports.com.Thank You for
taking an interest in our products.Thank You for taking the time to email us.
San Marzano Imports Inc.Sales Department-Marilena<<

Those of you who know more about this than myself, what do you make of this?

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2005, 03:29:16 PM »
Interestingly enough, when I was done posting the above message, I noticed a google ad for "real San Marzano tomatoes" at the top of the page:

http://www.salumeriaitaliana.com/acb/showdetl.cfm?&DID=10&Product_ID=23212&CATID=6

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline scott r

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2005, 04:10:27 PM »
tjaks, sorry, I probably the big meany that was talking bad about the La Bellas.  I think Jeff was the other.  In my most recent shootout of san marzanos I was amazed to find out how much brands differ from batch to batch.  I was trying to be nice by not talking smack about Jeff's favorite the cento brand Italian whole peeled variety, but I really thought those tomatoes were no big deal the first time I tried them.  In the next shootout I did the Cento's that Jeff liked so much ended up being amazing.  Also, these tomatoes don't even claim to be san marzanos, but they sure taste like them.   After finding this post I decided to open up another can of the La Bellas, this time from a fresh batch at a local Italian market.  Guess what, way better than the case I have. I opened one of my older cans, and the new can is way better.  Now, these are still not as good as the La Regina's to my taste buds, but they are packed in a very rich and thick puree just like the Reginas.  I still They are still a little more acidic tasting than most brands, but they do seem to have that really strong San Marzano flavor like the La Regina's.  If they were just a little less acidic (I really dislike that flavor) I would now actually put them in the same ballpark as the La Reginas.  I do know a day in the fridge after opening can do wonders for this problem.

Pizzabrewer, I am with you.  The collucio unfiltered is absolutely the best tasting olive oil I can find.  I have even done shootouts with $50 bottles, and I prefer the collucio.  Unfortunately San Marzano Imports ups the price for their website distribution way too high.  I can also find it much cheaper buying one bottle at a time at "Fresh Cheese" here in Boston than paying their ridiculous case prices.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2005, 11:26:27 PM by scott r »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2005, 06:34:23 PM »
Guy,

It's still not clear to me what San Marzano Imports is saying about the LaBella San Marzano tomatoes. Quite possibly, pizzanapoletana (Marco) can shed some light on this.

As I previously reported, for San Marzano tomatoes to be certified DOP (Denominazione di origine protetta - Protected Denomination of Origin), they must meet certain requirements. In particular, the DOP designation is "awarded to agricultural and food products having all phases of production carried out within a delimited geographical area following an officially approved production process, and whose properties are essentially derived from their geographical environment, inclusive of natural and human factors." The San Marzano varietal tomato grown in the Vesuvius region of Agro Nocerino Sarnese is one such product.

By contrast, the BRC is a different certification process that has little to do per se with the origins of products. The BRC standards were originally established by the British Retail Consortium (hence the BRC acronym) as a way of insuring that products provided to British food retailers met certain quality standards and were safe for consumers. Originally the BRC standards applied to private branded products but later other suppliers of their branded products could apply to be qualified and certified also. One of the major benefits of the BRC standards was to substantially reduce the numbers of audits of suppliers to be sure that their products were as represented and that they were safe for consumers.

What I don't understand is if the exporter of the LaBella San Marzano tomatoes has been certified as being in compliance with the BRC standards, and if the tomatoes are the genuine San Marzano tomatoes (the varietal) and are grown in the region qualifying for the DOP certification, why not get the DOP certification? There may be a perfectly good explanation, but I don't know what it is. I don't accept the statement about DOP meaning higher prices to the consumer. Marco has already indicated (if I understood his comments correctly) that there are certain yield requirements that apply to the DOP San Marzanos that translate into higher prices. Even at that, I have been able to buy DOP San Marzano tomatoes for less than San Marzano Imports charges, an example of this being the Famoso DOP San Marzano tomatoes I bought for $2.09 a can.

Maybe there is a perverse logic in labeling the tomatoes "LaBella San Marzano" which, if you look closely at the label, is a brand name, not an indication that the tomatoes are the authentic San Marzano varietal. I still don't know what is in the can. Is it an uncertified authentic San Marzano varietal tomato, a different tomato grown in the "San Marzano" region, tomatoes grown outside of the Vesuvius area from seeds of the varietal? Or, what? If the logic is to confuse consumers, then they have done a pretty good job.

Peter
« Last Edit: June 14, 2005, 06:39:45 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline tjacks88

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2005, 09:18:20 PM »
I will be going to New Jersey in July to visit my parents, they live about 15 minutes away from the La Bella San Marzano importer, I can go over and knock on their door - apparently they sell out of a garage adjacent to their house from what someone posted ???

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2005, 10:14:25 PM »
I guess I am not the only one confused by San Marzano Import's promotional materials on its website. Tonight I saw a post by Steven Shaw (a/k/a Fat Guy), a founder and executive director of eGullet.com and a restaurant/food guru, who had this to say about San Marzano Imports a few months ago:

"The San Marzano Imports site is full of ambiguity and wiggle words. For example, on the home page there's a link to a certification document that, if you read it, means little. There is lots of talk about San Marzano tomatoes and how great they are, but nary a mention of the DOP concept. Articles about San Marzano tomatoes in general -- as opposed to this particular brand -- are cited as testimonials."

Peter

Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2005, 07:37:00 AM »
I will be going to New Jersey in July to visit my parents, they live about 15 minutes away from the La Bella San Marzano importer, I can go over and knock on their door - apparently they sell out of a garage adjacent to their house from what someone posted ???

Yup, just call ahead and they'll be happy to sell to you.  It's kind of a long driveway but don't be intimidated, if they know you're coming just drive on in.  The fellow is very nice and likes to chat about his products.

Please do post about your experience and how you like the products.  Don't miss getting a bottle of the olive oil.

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Arthur

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Re: DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2005, 01:55:57 PM »
I was in New York this weekend and went to Arthur Ave (italian section in the bronx).  After going in several stores/markets I think I may have seen one can of "official" san marzano tomatoes.   I picked up several (non san marzano) cans to try out including:

La Squisita
Sclafani
Nina

These are supposedly the "best" according to locals.

I also stopped by a pizza supply warehouse in Queens/Long Island and took home a case of their cans for $12!  (12 (28 oz or so) cans of italian tomatoes with their own label on them.  They also had cases of ALTA CUCINA in 28 oz or so cans probably  for $15.   That's my next purchase. 

In addition to the above they had the standard large cans of bonta, 7/11, etc.   

In talking with the owner he said that every NY pizza place does something different.  Some get Bonta and mix for a quick pizza sauce.  Some get whole tomatoes and cook them.    He mentioned that All Trumps was the typical flour used.

As for the sauce, I've tried Cento, Cento DOP, Vantia, Patsy's Sauce (this are the tomatoes used at Patsy's in Harlem - I still have 5 large cans left), Red Pack, 6 in 1, Bonta, 7/11, Nina (actually tried a large can from Costco) etc.   I will be trying the cans listed above over the next few months and report back.  Currently,  there is a big difference in 6 in 1, 7/11, Bonta and the rest.   I personally like the whole tomatoes best and dilulte some of the liquid.  Occassionally I have added Bonta to thicken the sauce.   The 6 in 1 with Bonta reminds me of NY Street pizza, but I prefer the puree whole tomatoes on my home pizza.


 

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