A family favorite, Rao's --  yes, you can also enjoy these at Baldoria's, if you are lucky!  

Frankie Pellegrino, co-owner of New York's Rao's Restaurant, shares this memory when introducing Anna's meatball recipe in Rao's cookbook: 

In many southern Italian households, Sunday is meatball day.  When I was a child, my father and I would steal the meatballs as fast as my mother could fry them. Yet, Mom always managed to get a plateful to the table!  At Rao’s, Wednesday is meatball night.  When I arrive at the restaurant,, the first thing I do is make off with a couple of meatballs as they are being fried in the kitchen.. Guess I’m still a kid at heart.

And, guess what, it's still a tradition with the Pellegrino family.  The night Peter and I first enjoyed "Anna's Meatballs" at Baldoria, it was a Wednesday, on our second trip to New York City to celebrate my working eyes!  These were on the menu -- Wednesday is meatball night. 

Anna & Frankie's Rao’s Meatballs    Polpettini    viking.gif (38746 bytes)life is worth living!.

1 pound ground lean beef
½ pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 ½ tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
½ small garlic clove, peeled and minced, optional
2 cups bread crumbs (see below+)
2 cups lukewarm water
Salt (preferably Kosher or Sea Salt) and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup fine-quality olive oil

  1. Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl.  Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  Using your hands, blend ingredients together.  Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture.  Slowly add water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist.
  2. Shape meat mixture into balls (we usually make large, 2 ½- to 3-inch balls).
  3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan.  When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches.  When bottom half of meatball is very brown and slightly crisp turn and cook top half.  Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.*
  4. Lower cooked meatballs into simmering Marinara Sauce (see Salsa Marinara Rao's) or Sunday Gravy (see Rao's Sunday Gravy) and cook for 15 minutes.  Serve over pasta or on their own.

+Breadcrumbs:  for Rao's style breadcrumbs, be sure to make your own. Using the highest quality Itallian bread you can find, allow it to dry for at least two days.  Then, grate, using a handheld grater or a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Shake and push the bread crumbs through a medium strainer to get an even texture. 

Note:  In place of breadcrumbs, you can use stale Italian bread, white part only, which has been lightly soaked in lukewarm water.

Yield:  Makes 28 meatballs.

*If you want to bake these rather than frying in oil, choose method #2 below, borrowed from family-favorite-unsauced-meatballs

To brown the meatballs: 

Method #1--In a skillet, brown the meatballs in the vegetable oil and them remove to a side dish while sautéing remaining meatballs. 

Method #2--Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place meatballs on a jelly- roll-type pan and bake 15 minutes.


Any questions about making Rao's Meatballs at home, double-click here on Poppy, who has made them many, many times for us.

You can find this and related recipes by tapping here on the Home Cookin' index.


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