Every pasta dish needs its perfect pairing. Whether you’re craving a vibrant pesto, creamy alfredo, or hearty marinara, your pasta won't be complete without a delicious sauce. Whipping up a quick sauce may seem like a piece of cake, but sometimes, it’s easier to reach for jarred pasta sauce.
Luckily, California is home to several companies that craft flavorful pasta sauces—which shouldn’t be surprising, considering California grows 95 percent of the tomatoes used for sauces and other tomato-based products. To help you spend less time looking at the supermarket shelves lined with a dizzying array of locally made jarred sauces, we’re sharing some of the best California pasta sauce brands.
THE PASTA SHOP
Located on Lowell Street in Oakland, The Pasta Shop offers numerous products made fresh daily, including premium pasta sauces. Pasta Director Sandy Sonnenfeld uses classic recipes and unique ingredients to craft sauces that pair perfectly with the company's handcrafted pastas.
Try the seasonal creamy truffle sauce for a luxurious addition to any pasta. Offered from October to mid-February, this velvety sauce is made with truffle peelings, milk, cream, and dried mushrooms. If you crave the light flavors of spring, try the arugula and parsley pesto, composed of lemon juice, fresh parsley, arugula, almonds, capers, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Year-round, you can grab the roasted tomato arrabbiata sauce, which may become your new go-to thanks to its versatility and fiery kick.
DAVE’S GOURMET PASTA SAUCE
Founded by Bay Area resident and cookbook author Dave Hirschkop, Dave’s Gourmet creates innovative, gourmet pasta sauces using high-quality ingredients. The San Rafael–based company has won over 17 prestigious awards for its tasty sauces, including the butternut squash and organic spicy heirloom marinara sauces.
A gold medal winner, the butternut squash sauce is the perfect choice for those who love a delicately sweet, smooth sauce made from all-natural ingredients—the only ingredients are squash, fresh garlic, onion, and roasted red pepper. Another longtime favorite is the spicy heirloom marinara pasta sauce. Laced with organic chilies and fresh herbs, this piquant tomato sauce is not for the faint-hearted. For something lighter and fresher, try the red heirloom sauce featuring organic vine-ripened tomatoes, California olive oil, fresh herbs, and premium garlic.
Dave’s Gourmet even offers a vegan bolognese, which is not only an ideal pairing for pasta, but also for pizza, baked potatoes, nachos, and more.
CAPELLINO PASTA AND SAUCES
For full-flavored pasta sauces that are free of trans fats, look no further than Capellino Pasta and Sauces. Founded by Judith Cappellino in 1980, this San Francisco company delivers the taste of Italy and stays true to the tradition of making simple, delicious pasta sauces with pure ingredients. The alfredo sauce, for instance—Capellino’s flagship product—is crafted with authentic Parmesan cheese, high-quality butter, and heavy cream.
Her line of pasta sauces now includes the pesto sauce with pine nuts (containing extra virgin olive oil, aged Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, pine nuts, and garlic) and the pesto and cream (a creamier and richer version of the classic pesto), plus several other fresh and frozen sauces.
No matter which sauces you choose, you can taste the passion and care with which Cappellino makes them. She also shares recipes on her website, providing culinary inspiration for those who want to try making traditional Italian dishes at home.
Los Gatos–based Bianco DiNapoli specializes in organic tomato sauce made from fresh, juicy tomatoes grown in the Sacramento Valley. Thanks to its simplicity, the classic sauce can be used in a variety of pasta dishes—and you can taste the difference. Committed to using locally grown and organically harvested tomatoes in every product, Bianco DiNapoli serves as a prime example of a pioneering business that highlights California's bounty.
HUNT’S PASTA SAUCE
Started by Joseph and William Hunt, this small canning business rapidly grew into a major California brand. Hunt’s now produces tomato paste, organic and no-salt tomato products, canned tomatoes, one of the best pasta sauces in California, and a lot more.
Featuring vine-ripened tomatoes and a special blend of spices and herbs, the company’s rich, thick, and flavorful sauce is a perfect pairing for homemade pasta. To make your homemade pasta complete, you should try the Italian sausage and the roasted garlic and onion sauces. These slow-simmered and versatile sauces will enhance everything from your homemade pasta to chicken.
Which California-made pasta sauce are you going to try for your next Italian dinner? Share your recipes and favorite pasta products in the comments below!
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