Posts made in October 2021

Alta Cucina Brand Tomatoes by Stanislaus or DOP San Marzano? My choice: Alta Cucinaaaaah!

Who doesn’t LOVE Italy? Who doesn’t love the food in Italia?  (noun. the Italian name for Italy) What food worldwide is enjoyed, appreciated and loved by more people than any other country? Yup…you’ve got it! Italy.

Mind you now…we are taking nothing away from the cuisine of France or Greece or any other country for that matter. All I am saying here is that most folks like Italian food because it’s prepared with Italian produced ingredients that most folks enjoy. Needless to say, the perception exists that the San Marzano tomatoes produced and canned in Italy are the best.

First…A bit about the revered San Marzano tomato: Sweet, pulpy, low in acidity, and containing few seeds, they are said to be extraordinarily good for making sauces—and for many years the only ‘recognized’ name in the canned-tomato game. The long, meaty tomatoes are actually structurally distinct from most other plum tomatoes, containing only two seed pockets instead of the typical five. In near mythical fashion, traditional Italian farmers grew and grow them in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius, which famously erupted in AD 79, leveling the Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in a vicious flood of molten lava. Out of all that devastation comes the beauty of San Marzanos. It’s that volcanic soil and the microclimate—fanned with sea breezes from the Gulf of Naples—that accounts for their prized balanced flavor that defines tomatoey (yes…there is such a word 🙂 ) intensity and just the right amount of sweetness and acidity, 

In Italy, tomatoes labeled as “San Marzano” must adhere to strict DOP*** guidelines, which governs where they’re grown and how they’re processed. If you try growing the same seeds—“San Marzano” refers to both the plant and DOP—elsewhere, you just won’t get the same thing. In short, they are known as the world’s best canned tomatoes…and I love ’em!

***DOP. Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin. The DOP label guarantees that your favorite cheese, prosciutto, olive oil or tomato in this case is produced, processed, and packaged in a specific geographical zone and according to tradition. Each step, from production to packaging, is regulated.

Super Chef Cousin Mitchell of Maxwell’s 148 fame and partnering with Michael Cane to create The South Beach Brasserie loved his fresh Cooper’s NOFO veggies & tomatoes this summer…and loves Chef Bert’s Alta Cucina’s too!


Stanislaus shows appreciation to their customers with these beautiful Holiday gifts!

Betsa Pastaaaaah!

Bottom line here…

I love Italy and virtually everything food that is produced in Italy as most of us do…including the genuine San Marzano’s. I have to say, however,  the best tomatoes I have ever tasted out of the can (If a tomato tastes great directly out of the can, to me that is the tomato that will make the best sauce/gravy) is the Alta Cucina brand .tomatoes produced by Stanislaus in California. I use these exclusively and the results are unmatched even compared to the genuine DOP San Marzano’s.

From Stanislaus:

“Stanislaus has produced the closest thing to Old Italy grown in California. These tomatoes are the Stanislaus’ answer to true San Marzano tomatoes.

Alta Cucina® is filled with naturally sweet, tender, ultra-premium plum tomatoes in a light “naturale” style juice. Their exceptional fresh fragrance, exquisite flavor, and delicate “melt-in-your-mouth” texture right out of the can set the Gold Standard by which all other plum tomatoes are judged. For additional sweetness, Alta Cucina® is hand-packed with fresh basil. We also extensively hand-sort Alta Cucina® for identical consistency, can after can. Truly the finest, most consistent plum tomatoes available anywhere!”


Vine-ripened fresh plum tomatoes, tomato juice, fresh basil leaf, salt and naturally derived citric acid.

A little tip…

Be careful! You must see  “DOP” on a can of genuine San Marzano tomatoes. The name is used on many cans of tomatoes that do not meet the Designation of Origin requirements. There is even a can of tomatoes called San Marzano that aren’t San Marzano’s at all.. Goodness gracious…how could they?

They can be secured from Restaurant Depot for a price of about $24.00 for 6 #10 cans (6 lb 6 oz ea. or from Amazon for $14.99 each. Amazon is expensive compared to Restaurant Depot…however I’m not shocked as I’ve seen retail gourmet shops charge upwards of $20.00 for these large #10 cans of tomatoes in almost any brand.


As always, would love to hear from you with any comments in the comment box below.

Mangia bene’…

Chef Bert