Seattle, Wash.— Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, Seattle’s favorite wood-fired pizza restaurant, has introduced its own private label canned tomatoes. Available for purchase at all Tutta Bella locations in 6 lb.9 oz. cans ($10), customers can enjoy at home the central ingredient behind many of its most popular dishes.
When the European Union regulations changed to dictate that only tomatoes grown in the Agro Sarnese-Nocerino area between Salerno and Naples may be designated as San Marzano (DOP), Tutta Bella’s Founder, Joe Fugere, and Executive Chef, Brian Gojdics, decided to source the best tomato available for their authentic Neapolitan pizzas.
“What’s not well known is that production of the designated San Marzano tomatoes has become so limited that there isn’t even enough to supply Napoli, much less the rest of the world. Tutta Bella’s canned tomatoes come from the same species of the varietal known as San Marzano. It’s a plum tomato typified by its elongated shape, juiciness, sweetness, thick flesh, bright flavor, low acidity and low seed content and we looked for these characteristics when sourcing our tomato”, notes Gojdics.
“The tomatoes should be whole and packed in light puree because tomatoes that are broken up tend to be inferior and heavy puree is often used to “hide” what’s really in the can.” After sampling dozens of Southern Italian varietal tomatoes, we had a clear winner. Our VPN-approved “pomodoro di Napoli” or “tomato of Naples” simply tastes better with a sweeter, richer flavor profile than domestic varieties. Not only was, Ciao, the clear favorite but they didn’t hesitate to say “yes” when asked if they would produce a private label for us for resale,” comments Chef Brian.
In September of 2011, Brian visited Ciao in Italy to taste the recently harvested tomatoes and check on the packing of Tutta Bella’s private label tomato cans to ensure that the production would satisfy Tutta Bella’s annual usage of 150,000 pounds. On March 30, 2012, Merlino Foods invited a team of Tutta Bella managers to watch as the initial production of 6,000 cans of Tutta Bella private label tomatoes were unloaded after their journey from Naples, Italy to Seattle, Washington.
Home cooks needn’t be put off by the can size: Chef Brian suggests pouring any remaining tomatoes and juice or prepared marinara sauce into a freezer bag, removing the air, and storing frozen for up to six months. A smaller 28 oz. can ($5) of Tutta Bella brand tomatoes will soon be offered as well.