Grandma Angelo’s Meat a Balls with Sauce

Makes 10 large meatballs

This is a slightly modified recipe from my Grandmother, who came to this country from Bari, Italy after my Grandfather had lived and worked in America a few years and was finally able to send $$$ for his family to join him…the rest of the story is meatball history. To this day, I can still smell the weekly “meat-a-ball Sunday” aroma and hear laughter enjoyed by the large crowd of family and friends who would join my grandparents for dinner! When preparing this recipe, I fry the balls to brown them; however, I have browned in the oven now and then, either way I make sure to brown all sides of the outer portion only. So, if you use fresh bread crumbs (I am partial to home made bread), gently toss the ground meat mixture, lightly pack when forming the meatballs, brown only the outside of the balls and let the interior cook while simmering for a few hours while releasing a wonderful flavor into your sauce and an aroma throughout your kitchen; you will be on your way to tender, juicy mouth-watering meatball heaven!

THE SAUCE (start the sauce simmering in a 6 quart Dutch oven 1st)

  • 1-28 ounce can organic crushed plum tomatoes with basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Amore concentrated Sun-Dried Tomato Paste (my favorite addition that adds an extra rich flavor)
  • 6-8 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Note: I like to use Penzeys Spices
  1. Add all ingredients to a 6 quart sauce pan and start simmering at least an hour before the browned meatballs are ready to be added.
  2. Keep a couple slices of fresh bread close by for “sauce testing”, a bottle of your favorite red wine for adding a little moisture to the sauce, if needed…and for sipping too!
  3. PS – sauce vs. gravy….it depends on the family, we call it sauce.


  • 3/4-lb ground sirloin and 1/4-lb ground pork
  • 2-ounces fresh bread-torn (homemade or from your bakery)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Smashed and chopped garlic; 2 cloves or to your taste
  • 1/2 cup micro-plane grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon toasted onion powder
  • 5 grinds fresh pepper – to your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Add olive oil to a sauté pan; set aside.
  2. Place the ground meat in a bowl; set aside. 
  3. In a food processor, add the torn bread, parsley, garlic, grated cheese, onion powder, pepper, and oregano; then pulse until finely processed.
  4. Add the bread mixture and the beaten egg to the ground meat; toss with your hands and gently incorporate all seasonings.
  5. The mixture must feel moist, (slightly sticky) and be able to hold together; add 1 tablespoon of water at a time if you feel the mixture needs more moisture.
  6. Gently form the meat into lightly packed balls. 
  7. Heat the sauté pan – medium high heat, and fry the balls, brown and crisp all sides. Brown only the outside of the meatball to seal the balls together. Note: I have also browned these meatballs in the oven @ 375 degrees for ½ hour, turning a few times.
  8. Transfer the meatballs to an already simmering sauce and cover. The inside of meatball will cook while simmering in the sauce.
  9. Simmer sauce for about 2-3 hours; until the sauce is sticking to the balls, they look juicy, and the aroma is filling the air with “Italian goodness”.

6 thoughts on “Grandma Angelo’s Meat a Balls with Sauce

  1. Kathleen October 15, 2011 at 9:00 AM Reply

    Hi Linda, I made Grandma Angelo’s sauce for a spaghetti feed we had at the church and we ran out of sauce. Everyone was commenting on how great the sauce. I am making a large pot today and am going to can it for later.

    • lapadia October 16, 2011 at 4:58 AM Reply

      So happy it was enjoyed by all!

  2. Vicki February 13, 2014 at 8:11 PM Reply

    This sauce looks like the color and texture of my favorite sauce from Sabatinos restaurant in Chicago. I am definitely going to give this a try. Thanks for posting and I’ll let you know if it’s similar. I could drink that stuff lol

    • lapadia February 13, 2014 at 10:36 PM Reply

      Hi vicki! Happy you stopped by and will be trying my recipe out:) looking forward to hearing back! Cheers!

      • Vicki February 25, 2014 at 5:37 PM

        This sauce is fantastic!!! I made it tonight and the only thing I changed (per viewing other recipes) is that i added an onion that i chopped finely in the food processor (to bring out flavor) and did the same to the minced onion. I then added the olive oil, along with a stick of butter and sauteed the onion till cooked and added the garlic and cooked a bit. I then added all the other ingredients which i tripled and since i could not find the sun dried tomato paste in my grocer, I used a jar of roasted red pepper with garlic and olive oil (threw those in the food processor as well) and extra basil. but the base sauce is great!! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!! And the meatballs were amazing as well!:)

      • lapadia February 26, 2014 at 3:04 AM

        Happy to hear back, Vicki! Love all your flavor additions, and thrilled with your review!:)

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