When we found out that Jon Bon Jovi's father made pasta sauces, appropriately called Bongiovi Pasta Sauces, we were excited. Not necessarily as excited as when we've had a few drinks and Livin' On A Prayer comes on the speakers, but pretty close. Would they give the pasta sauce industry a bad name (warning: there WILL be Bon Jovi song references in this write-up, just deal with it)? Or would they be more like a blaze of glory?
The family, after passing the sauce recipe down for generations, describes their foray into jarred sauce on the Bongiovi website:
The idea of a jarred sauce was unheard of in our house. We would always say that you could never get the homemade taste in a jar. Our secret to the homemade taste is making small batches with the highest quality ingredients available. After numerous attempts, we have been able to master the process that allows us to bring a true homemade taste from the jar to your table. We hope you enjoy the flavors of home, the Bongiovi home.
Similarly, John Bongiovi Sr. told the Asbury Park Press, "We're not just putting our name out there. I refuse to do that. It's good.”
We get where the Bongiovi family is coming from but we've sampled a lot of pasta sauces, and none of them really taste the same as homemade. We're guessing ingredients like potassium metabusulfite and citric acid didn't originally appear in nonna's kitchen.
Mr. Jon Bon Jovi himself once asked, "Who says you can't go home?" We don't doubt the the original Bongiovi recipe was good, but when it comes to transforming an old recipe into a modern-day convenience, you in fact can't really go home[made] (sorry, that one was a bit forced, but just roll with it!). The sauces weren't bad, they just tasted like all the other supermarket pasta sauces. So... they're halfway there.
Bongiovi Pasta Sauces are available online or at select New Jersey Shoprites.
The label might say "spicy" in big red letters, but there's only a slightly detectable black pepper kick at the end. Instead, one taster found the sauce to be a bit bitter while others were just hoping for some more heat. Still, this one was probably the favorite.
This is a very sweet marinara sauce -- most were overwhelmed by the sweetness. One taster found it "passable" albeit slightly metallic. Not really a standout.
If "Garden Style" means "heavy on the red pepper" than that's what you get. But if you're expecting to detect other vegetables, you'll be sorely disappointed. But add some Marinara (and heck, maybe some of the Arrabbiata) and you might have a winner.