Tag Archives: tomato sauce

The Italian Pantry: Canned Tomatoes

Some Italians still can their own tomatoes, but most people buy them in cans in the store. There’s a debate whether fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes are best for making tomato sauce/gravy. Most Italians prefer to use canned tomatoes. Even food writer and Italian food expert Arthur Schwartz notes that Italians prefer canned tomatoes because they taste better.

What is it used for? Italians keep a variety of canned tomato products in their pantry: crushed, peeled, strained, diced, tomato sauce, tomato puree. Each of these is a different product. Canned peeled or crushed tomatoes are used for making tomato sauce/gravy. You can crush the whole tomatoes by hand or just used crushed tomatoes. Crushed are what we use most. For a lighter sauce (i.e. not the standard tomato sauce/gravy), you can use tomato sauce. (An example is my eggs and sauce dish.) For a thicker sauce or as a tomato paste, you can use tomato puree or strained tomatoes. The tomatoes can be used in soups as well.

–Dina Di Maio


Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Vincent’s

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.


In the late 1800s, Italian immigrants Giuseppe and Carmela Siano sold clams and other seafood from a cart on Mott and Hester Streets. In 1904, they created a restaurant in the same spot and named it Vincent’s Clam House, for their son. They are famous for their calamari, which they serve with a hot tomato sauce. Their tomato sauce is also famous and available at stores nationwide.