Neapolitan Meat Sauce / Ragu Napoletano alla Anna Galasso

A typical Neapolitan ragu is a meat sauce made with beef or pork or a combination of both that is cooked slowly with tomatoes. This was the sauce that simmered for hours on the back burner in a large pot on Sunday morning while the family went to mass. Upon returning home, the smell of it permeated the house and we could hardly wait to have that plate of macaroni mixed with a sauce that was so flavorful and sweet tasting that we wiped our plates clean with a slice of bread to mop up an left behind driblets.

This is a great do-ahead sauce; it can be made four or five days ahead and it can also be frozen for months. This is my grandmother Anna Galasso’s recipe, the one she carried with her in her head all the way from Avellino, Italy to her new home in America.

Saving Time, use a food processor to mince and chop the vegetables. To save time, make this sauce on the weekend and freeze some for future use. Use a food processor to mince and chop the vegetables.

Makes 8 cups


  • 1 1/2 pounds top round steak, cut 1/8 inch thick
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup minced flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 4 meaty spareribs on the bone
  • 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, stemmed and torn into pieces
  • 3- 28 ounce cans ground plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • Grinding of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Ingredients


  1. Dry the round steak with paper towels and rub it on both sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the meat with the parsley and cheese. Roll the meat up like a jellyroll & tie it in several places with kitchen string. Salt & pepper the spare ribs. Set the meats aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy duty pot. Over medium heat, brown the round steak and spare ribs in the oil on all sides. This will take about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the onion, celery and carrot and continue cooking until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the garlic and basil. Cook 1 minute.
  4. Combine the tomatoes and wine in a bowl. Slowly pour the mixture over the meat. Stir in the tablespoon of salt, a grinding of pepper, and the sugar. Cover the pot, bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook the sauce until the meat is fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove the meat to a dish. Cover the dish and refrigerate the meat to make it easier to cut when cold. When ready to use, transfer the round steak to a cutting board and cut the strings from the round steak with a kitchen scissors. Cut into neat slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Add to the sauce. Cut the meat off the bones of the spareribs and add the pieces to the sauce.
  6. Use the sauce for macaroni dishes both boiled and baked.
  7. Note: The sauce (with the meat) can be frozen in batches for future use for lasagne, pasta dishes, with vegetables such as green beans, zicchini, and eggplant, and over pizza.

This recipe was featured on Season 15 - Episode 1515.

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James C

Molto bene! I just made this recipe for the first time and it is absolutely delicious.

To be perfectly honest, until now I didn’t have a butcher. I would just go to the supermarket to buy meat.

Now I have a good butcher AND an amazing Neapolitan sauce. Grazie, Mary Ann, for sharing your nonna’s recipe AND for posting the video. I watched it a couple of times before I chopped a single vegetable and it made me confident that I knew what I was doing.

Pamela manning

I watched your show for the first time on July 6,2012 on sauces but can’t find receipes


IMO, use brisket instead of round steak. Add a little sweet Italian sausage. Don’t think you need celery and carrot, that’s more for a Bolognese, isn’t it? If you use San Marzano or other quality canned tomatoes instead of acidic stuff you shouldn’t need much, if any, added sugar. Just saying. Everything else is spot on.

Glen Spencer

Hello thank you for putting your recipe out there I’m I’m confused about Northern ragu Southern ragu pomodoro sauce marinara sauce I’m not sure which sauces go on spaghetti or rigatoni I could use a little adult supervision here Thank You

Aaron Annecharico

This is the sauce I grew up with. It would dinner all afternoon and the house would smell amazing! We too were from Avellino.

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