In Consumer Reports’ June 2002 report on celebrity pasta sauces, it ranked both Emeril’s Kicked Up Tomato and Rao’s Homemade Marinara as Excellent (Emeril’s sauce was also rated a CR Best Buy).
I found both at the Menlo Park Safeway, Emeril’s priced at $4.89 and Rao’s at more than double the price at $9.99.
In a side-by-side test taste straight out of the jar, it is apparent that Emeril’s sauce is thicker than Rao’s, with a more pronounced olive oil taste, and definitely has a spicy kick to it.
I used Rao’s sauce first — sauteing an Italian turkey sausage link, chopped onions, then pouring in Rao’s sauce, and adding a bit of heavy cream for a richer sauce. The sauce has a mild taste to it. Yummy, but not extraordinary. Definitely not worth the $10 price!