Try the Italian Hot Sauce That Belongs on Any Dish

Experience the spice of Italy with Stuzzi Hot Sauce.

<p>Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christine Keely </p>

Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

You can describe the flavor of Stuzzi Hot Sauce just as you would a fine wine: It’s a piquant Italian brightener with nuance and a strong sense of place.

The hot sauce was born in 2021, when Carla Rza Betts and Richard Betts, a husband-and-wife duo with decades of experience in the beverage industry (Carla as a wine director and now winemaker and Richard as a wine director and now partner and CEO of the spirits company Casa Komos Brands Group), took a road trip across the Alps. The couple had dinner at Klösterle, a restaurant in Lech, Austria, and talked with the chefs, Ethel Hoon and Jakob Zeller.

“We started talking about the food world,” says Carla. “Out of nowhere, Richard said, ‘Want to make a hot sauce?’ Without breaking, Ethel said, ‘Absolutely.’” The next day, Hoon sent them her grandmother’s Hainanese spice paste, demonstrating a shared affinity for spicy condiments that bonded the four instantly.

Together, they hatched a vision: a hot sauce made in Italy that would work with a wide range of cuisines. The four drove throughout Italy, seeking out the peppers for their sauce. They settled on a mix of dried Calabrian chiles, which contribute earthy, deeply savory tones, and fermented Sicilian cayenne peppers. “The fermented peppers get these lifted, very bright, sassy, opinionated high tones,” Carla says.

Related: The Best Hot Sauces, According to F&W Editors

The Calabrian chiles are kept whole and dried slowly in the shade, then soaked in distilled vinegar for at least two weeks. Meanwhile, the fresh chiles are blended, mixed with salt, and left to ferment for at least six months. “Same as in winemaking, taking more time and allowing the flavor to build naturally often lends the best result,” adds Carla. All the peppers are passed through a destoning machine to remove seeds, similar to the destemming process in wine. “Removing the seeds helps to remove any unwanted bitterness. We only want to retain the aromatic, flavorful part of the pepper.”

Named Stuzzi, short for stuzzicare, which means “tease” in Italian, the hot sauce has a gentle, fruity heat, with just enough kick. Stuzzi is a chameleon that seems to work with any dish it touches, though it particularly shines in Italian dishes, like rigatoni all’amatriciana.

But to Carla, one of the most distinctive features of the sauce is its connection to Italy. “It’s amazing how few hot sauces talk about their peppers and where they get them,” Carla muses. “Terroir is hugely important. [For Stuzzi], terroir gives you a deeper complexity. You recognize that there’s something special about it.”

To purchase Stuzzi Hot Sauce or find a bottle near you, visit

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