Della Mia Famiglia Italiana Spaghetti & Meatballs

I learned this recipe from my mother, who learned it from my Italian father’s grandmother, who learned it from her mother, who was an immigrant from northern Italy. It’s as authentic as it gets!

The ingredients call for homemade tomato sauce. You may use store-bought if you wish, which is sacrilegious (in my opinion). Even on days I am rushing to eat, I will still always make homemade tomato sauce; sometimes extra, to freeze for the future. However, I am not 100% ready to give out my family’s tomato sauce recipe just yet…

Although, I will let you know what can of crushed tomatoes we use as a base. Since the day my great-great grandmother came to America, the first can she picked up was by the brand Tuttorosso, and she told her children, which has since passed down onto me, to never use any other brand. I’m sure other brands are just fine, but she picked up Tuttorosso, so Tuttorosso it shall stay.

I say the cook time is between 30 minutes to an hour and a half based on how much you are in a rush to eat. However, I do suggest that the longer you let those meatballs simmer in the sauce, the more succulent they get and the more complex you allow  the flavors to get. This recipe is worth the wait, believe me. If you just can’t wait, however, you need to have the meatballs simmer in the sauce for at least a minimum of 30 minutes. I find that 30 minutes will still let those flavors combine, just enough to be delicious, but still works on a tight schedule.

It literally takes less than 10 minutes to prep. Most of that time is waiting for the pasta water to boil (of course).

My favorite cheese to use is Locatelli Pecorino Romano, but that can be expensive sometimes. So Parmesan works just as well to sprinkle in the meatball mixture and on top at the end.

By the way, these meatballs are still delicious and moist days later as leftovers either cold (the way my father likes it) or heated up in the microwave (the only way I can have them – hot).

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours

Serves: 4-6 people


  • 2 lbs. of ground beef (80% beef/20% fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 c. of Italian bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 c. garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. onions, minced
  • 7 c. of homemade tomato sauce


In a bowl, combine beef, eggs, cheese and breadcrumbs. Next, shape them into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

In a skillet, sauté the minced garlic and onions in olive oil for about 4 minutes.

Have a pot of tomato sauce simmering. Make sure the pot is large enough to fit all the meatballs and still have them all generously covered in sauce.

Now add the meatballs to the skillet, cooking on one side of the ball for 15 minutes, then turning each ball over for another 15 minutes.

Add them to the tomato sauce. For extra flavor and to loosen the sauce a bit, add about 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil from the skillet (without the brown burnt crumbs).

Let them simmer in the sauce for one hour.

Cook pasta about 20 minutes before serving time (10 minutes to boil, 8-9 minutes for the pasta to cook). Serve on top a heaping pile of pasta and a sprinkle of cheese.

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