Expert Advice For Upgrading Your Pizza Sauce

Everyone obsesses about a pizza's crust and toppings, but the sauce rarely gets the love it deserves. That's too bad, because the supporting role that the sauce plays is essential for a perfectly balanced pie. If your homemade pizza isn't giving you the flavor you want, it could be time to consider upgrading your sauce. We asked Marc Forgione, Chef and Restaurateur of Respect Hospitality Group, which runs Trattoria One Fifth, Peasant, and the soon to reopen Forgione, how to make pizza sauce sing. His advice was simple but essential: "taste the sauce you buy."

Whether you buy a ready-to-go jarred sauce or whip up your own with canned tomatoes like Costco's stellar San Marzano variety, you need to know what you're working with. The texture and flavor of canned tomatoes and premade sauces can vary significantly. So taste a little spoonful and then follow Forgione's next bit of advice to "adjust [the sauce] to your liking with spices or other ingredients."

Italian ingredients that take pizza sauce to the next level

In terms of what to add to a classic red pizza sauce, look to Italy for ideas. Marc Forgione does, and he told Today Meal, "I stick to my Italian roots with a simple tomato sauce that uses high-quality ingredients." If your sauce lacks flavor, opt for some traditional Italian herbs like fresh or dried basil, oregano, or thyme. To add a punch of acidity, simmer pizza sauce with a good splash of Italian red wine. Opting for a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar will add sweetness to pizza sauce without added sugar. You could even add some anchovy paste and simmer it with the sauce for a few minutes. You won't taste any fishiness and it will add a salty umami kick. And, of course, adding minced, sautéed fresh garlic is always a good idea. 

If you're still stuck on inspiration, head to your closest farmers' market to find some fresh additions. "At Trattoria One Fifth we use local ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket," shared Forgione. Trattoria One Fifth is located in Greenwich Village, just steps away from the world-class farmers market in Union Square park. Whether you shop at a farmers market or just want to turn to your Italian pantry staples, following Forgione's simple advice guarantees a more flavorful pizza sauce.