San Marzano is a variety of plum tomatoes that come from the Campania region of Italy. They have a longer shape than most tomatoes and their color is a deep, rich red. Their flavor is strong and sweet with a bit less acidity than other tomatoes. There is almost a meaty taste to them. That is due to the the volcanic soil from which they are grown. San Marzano sits at the base of Mount Vesuvius.
San Marzano tomatoes are a staple in Italian cooking, and there really is no substitute. They are used by most of today’s popular Italian chefs, and they are the only tomatoes used for true Napoletana style pizza. Google “San Marzano” and “Batali”…he loves them.
When buying San Marzanos, be on the lookout for knockoffs. There are many brands of tomato that may include the words “San Marzano style” or “San Marzano brand” on the can that aren’t really from San Marzano. In fact, many aren’t even from Italy. Real San Marzanos must come from San Marzano, and only come whole and peeled or as fillets. If you see the words “chopped”, “diced”, “pureed” or “organic” they aren’t San Marzano. The surest way to know you’re getting the real thing is to look for “DOP Certified” on the label…we’ll save the topic of DOP for another day. They are more expensive, but absolutely worth it.