The Fan-Favorite Marinara Sauce That's Truly A Steal At Costco

If you're Italian, it's likely that you're a fan of homemade marinara sauce or have a family recipe that's been passed down for generations. While homemade sauce can be a treat, a busy work schedule or taking care of a family may prevent you from whipping up your grandmother or grandfather's favorite recipe. If that's the case, you may want to check out a fan-favorite sauce that's available at grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Target, and ShopRite: Rao's Homemade Marinara. Often, a single jar of the sauce costs about $9 to $10. On Rao's website, one 24 oz. jar of the Homemade Marinara Sauce costs $8.99. But if you're a Costco Wholesale regular, then you're in luck. At Costco, you can purchase two 28 oz. jars of Rao's (AKA Costco Item Number 1234826) for about $11.79. A single jar costs about $5.89. The item also occasionally goes on sale at Costco. One TikTok user even scooped up two 28 oz. jars at Costco last month for just $8.69.  

On Rao's Instagram channel, the brand captioned a photo of two Costco jars, "Pasta lovers, rejoice! Stock up on Rao's Homemade Marinara at Costco and never run out again." One Instagram user wrote, "Did that already. Took advantage of the sale." Another commented, "the only reason I have a Costco membership!" While Sam's Club carries two 28 oz. jars of Rao's for $9.98 or $4.99 for a single jar, the jar is 6 oz. smaller than the Costco version.    

What is the history of Rao's Restaurant?

While Rao's Homemade Marinara sauce is now a customer-favorite at grocery stores, the history of Rao's is extensive and helps explain how the sauce made its way into retail stores. Rao's, a Southern Italian restaurant that's based in New York, first opened its doors at 455 East 114th Street in East Harlem in 1896 after Charles Rao moved with his parents from Italy to the U.S. The restaurant's top-tier clientele and the fact there are only 10 tables inside make acquiring a reservation quite the feat.     

Celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Liza Minnelli, and Martin Scorsese have all been spotted at the restaurant. In fact, when Scorsese visited the restaurant in the 1980s, he cast more than 20 guests at Rao's as extras in "Goodfellas." Plus, Bo Dietl, a celebrity private eye, has had a special eight-top table at Rao's every Thursday since 1977. 

"Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington had dinner with me, and Andre Agassi used to have meatballs with me all the time,” Dietl told the New York Post. "And [while he was filming] 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' Leo DiCaprio came to Rao's with me, and they even shot part of the film there,” he said. Rao's now has a Los Angeles location too. Although its Las Vegas location closed, a Miami Beach restaurant is supposed to open sometime this year. Rao's exclusivity encouraged its owners to sell its well-known sauce.     

What does Rao's Homemade Marinara sauce taste like?

The late Frank Pellegrino Sr., who began working at Rao's in 1975, got tired of saying no to people who wanted a reservation at the restaurant and even earned the nickname Frankie No. Pellegrino Sr. introduced the sauce in 1992. "[S]o this way I don't have to say 'no' anymore and everybody can have it at home," he explained via Rao's.

One Redditor wrote, "To say that it's 'just like homemade' or 'restaurant-quality' is underselling it. This is one of the best tomato sauces I've had anywhere, including in Italy. It's incredibly well-balanced, it has an outrageous aroma, and it's packed with meatiness and concentrated tomato flavor." However, the user questioned what Rao's secret is since other than the large quantities of extra-virgin olive oil, it contains tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, oregano, and black pepper, like other sauces. When the Reddit user wrote the post five years ago, their primary concern was the sauce's cost.  

A fellow user responded, "The closest I have come to replicating it is to blanch, skin, seed and crush fresh plum tomatoes. You also have to food mill the seeds out. It tastes fresh because the tomatoes don't get [cooked] twice." Another user suggested, "Do what they do in the factory: use a pressure cooker. This is the only difference between your sauce and theirs. Get an instant pot or equivalent." However, if you're not in the mood to replicate the sauce, Costco has you covered.