Neapolitan Meat and Onion Sauce

Serves 6 – 8


  • 2 1/4 to 3 pounds chuck or bottom round roast, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto or pancetta, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 pounds mild yellow or Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup red wine (We used Chianti Classico.)
  • Water as needed
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 pound candle or ziti pasta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Dry the meat with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper the meat. Set aside.
  2. In a large high-sided pot like a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat; add the meat with the pancetta and brown it slowly on all sides.
  3. Add the celery and carrot and cook a couple of minutes. Add the onions and the wine. Allow the wine to evaporate.
  4. Cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed to keep roast from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Check the meat for tenderness; if it needs more time, continue cooking until the meat is tender and the onions have been reduced to a very creamy consistency.
  5. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Slice and serve it as a second course or refrigerate and serve it for another meal.
  6. Cook the ziti in 4 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until the ziti is cooked through, meaning that when a piece is broken in half, no uncooked flour is visible.
  7. Drain the ziti and add it to the pot with the onion sauce. Mix well. Serve with grated cheese.

This recipe was featured on Season 28 - Episode 2805.

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Mary Ann, I first read about Genovese in an Italian detective novel by Maurizio DiGiovanni which takes place in Naples in the 1930s. It’s a wonderful series of books and includes lots of food references. One of the brigadieri talks about his wife’s fabulous cooking specifically her Genovese. I had to look it up because as you said in your show, it’s not a Genovese recipe but a Neapolitan one. Always wanted to make it, and you have inspired me, again!


How many quarts is a “large high sided Dutch oven” ? I couldn’t tell from the video how big it is- I need to buy one and don’t want it so small that I can’t get the lid on over the roast, or so big that the ingredients get lost in the pot…what size do you use here??

Kathleen Maples

I can not wait to try this!!

Carol Moore

About a 7 3/4 quart. I use a Le Creuset

Madge Wielander

Yes ! The Italian-American version of a rich meat sauce ragu’ that originated in the Campania region of Southern Italy is truly a masterpiece in a pot ! My grandmother taught my mom how to make this in the 1950’s,after she married my dad. There are no carrots or cream in this sauce; it is not Bolognese,as we are not from Northern Italy ! My grandparents emigrated here around 1920 from the town of Sarno, Provincia di Salerno,near the foot of the Vesuvius volcano.The biggest difference between the Italian and American versions of this Sunday meat sauce is the abundance of meat that was readily available here and much less so in the poor regions of Southern Italy in those days long ago.

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