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MarketBasket: Villa di Roma, in a jar

The six De Luca family siblings have no plans to add locations of Villa di Roma, their classic Italian Market "red gravy" institution. But now you can take home a taste of their inimitable red sauces in a jar. Brother Bas

Villa Di Roma
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The six De Luca family siblings have no plans to add locations of Villa di Roma, their classic Italian Market "red gravy" institution.

But now you can take home a taste of their inimitable red sauces in a jar.

Brother Basil De Luca, Villa's sauce and meatball master, spent two days at a food plant in Maryland to ensure the manufactured version is as close as possible to what he makes every day.

And he succeeded.

I tried the "classic sauce" beside the slightly more expensive fresh version also sold from the fridge for takeout, and it was a very good replica.

The "house classic tomato sauce" is a vegetarian rendition of the "gravy" Villa uses with Pecorino-Romano to simmer its famous meatballs.

The "house marinara," which has a little oregano but no cheese, is the restaurant's choice for seafood.

Honestly, there is no true replacement for Basil's handmade sauce.

But with a shelf life of two years for the jars, the new product is a worthy way to broaden the reach of this genuine South Philly treasure's legacy. For now, though, you'll still have to visit Ninth Street to buy it.

– Craig LaBan


Villa di Roma's Classic Sauce and Marinara, $6.95 for a 24 oz. jar, 936 S. Ninth St., 215-592-1295; villadiroma.com