Every Sunday is special in an Italian household. It is the one day a week designated to spending time with family and reminiscing about the long work week over a nice home-cooked meal. This isn’t just any home-cooked meal because this is the ultimate Sunday tradition. Do not fear: This meatball and gravy recipe can be made on any day of the week. Yes, I said gravy. It is sauce until the meat is cooked in it, then it becomes gravy. Regardless, it is the perfect dinner to share with your roommates, show off your cooking skills to your parents, or meal prep for the week since it is made in a fairly large batch. 

This recipe is from my nonna, but many families make their meatballs in a similar way. The ingredient list doesn’t include many measurements because, honestly, where I come from, we measure with our hearts.

Allyssa Bovasso-Pignataro


- 3 lbs of ground beef (this made approximately 20 meatballs)

- ~2 tbsp of olive oil

- ~3 handfuls of seasoned bread crumbs

- Water

- Parmigiano cheese (grated)

- 1-2 Eggs

- Garlic

- Parsley

- Salt and pepper 

You will know you have a good mixture when the meat is moldable, holds a meatball shape, and has a wet texture. You will know there is enough seasoning by how fragrant the mixture is. Do keep in mind that the parmigiano and bread crumbs are on the saltier side already so be careful when adding salt. If they are too dry, add small amounts of water and keep mixing. Remember, you can always add more, but you can never take it back!

Whenever I make this, I use two jars of sauce which comes out to approximately eight cups in the pot. The sauce you need will depend on the amount of meat you will be cooking so the pot is not crowded and everything is evenly submerged.

I usually have jars of homemade sauce on deck at all times because I take at least one or two whenever I go back home, but if you don’t have this luxury, this is all you will need: cans of diced tomatoes, salt, and basil.

Yes, that is it. I usually use this method when I need a small batch of sauce for pasta on the fly, but it always lacks flavor because it's the meat that gives it that wonderful taste.


- White onion (for every 4 cups of sauce, you will need ¼ of an onion)

- 1 carrot

- Sausage (opinional)

- Pork bones (optional)


1. Put oil at the bottom of a hot pot

2. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and let it get brown on the sides

3. Add sausage and pork bones and brown on all sides

4. Once brown, add sauce to the pot and bring to a boil

5. Add basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste

6. Add a carrot (helps cut the acid of the tomatoes)

7. Add meatballs

8. Turn it down to a simmer and put the lid on, leaving a small opening on the side

9. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours

10. Cook pasta when the meatballs are done

11. Serve and enjoy!

This Italian recipe is the perfect way to show those around you how much you adore them and is the perfect cure for when I am feeling homesick. When all of your hard work is done, the payoff will be so worth it. You will be left with a happy heart and stomach- plus your house will smell phenomenal.