Restaurant-style Italian you can make at home

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There's nothing quite like classic meatballs or rich tiramisu when it comes to satisfying your Italian food cravings. But you don't have to venture far to find a taste of Rome or Florence. Matt Abdoo, chef at Del Posto Restaurant in New York City, will show you how to bring the flavors of Italy from his restaurant to your kitchen. 

Grandma's gravy and meatballs

For the gravy:

  • 4 28-oz. cans pureed tomatoes
  • 4 1/2 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 links sweet Italian sausage
  • 3 links spicy Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb. beef short rib 

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork 
  • 1 cup pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 3 tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 loaf bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)

To make the gravy:

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the short ribs and the sausages all over in 2 tsp. of olive oil. Once browned, remove from heat and set aside.

Using the same pot, toast the garlic until golden-brown. Add the onion, cooking until it's soft and translucent. 

Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the red wine, and reduce the mixture until it becomes a paste. Put in the pureed tomatoes, and return the short ribs to the pot. Simmer for about 1 to 2 hours, or until the ribs are tender.


Add the cooked meatballs (with their juices) and the sausage links. Season with salt and sugar. 

Simmer for 30 minutes before serving. Top with fresh basil. 

To make the meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take out the interior of the bread, and give it a rough chop — you don't want any crust. Soak the inside parts of the bread in milk until they're soft.

Squeeze the milk out of the soaked bread, and discard the milk.

In a large bowl, combine soaked bread pieces with the remaining ingredients, mixing to incorporate them. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, covered. 

Roll the meat mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes.  

Meatballs before baking. Today

Antipasti platter

  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto di parma
  • 1/4 lb. sweet soppressata 
  • 1/4 lb. hot soppressata 
  • 1/4 lb. Genoa salami
  • 1/4 lb. robiola cheese
  • 1/4 lb. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 lb. Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 lb. dried fruit
  • 1/4 lb. olives
  • 1/4 lb. stuffed cherry peppers

Arrange on a platter and serve. Refresh the selection throughout the evening. 


For the tiramisu cream:

  • 2 cups mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. dark rum
  • Salt (to taste)

For the assembly:

  • 1 pkg. ladyfingers/savoiardi (brand of your choice)
  • 3 cups espresso, freshly brewed and cooled
  • Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (high quality)

To make the cream:

Using a stand mixer, add the mascarpone, sugar, egg yolks, cream, rum and salt to the bowl. With the whipping attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed. Gradually increase the speed as the mixture becomes stable.

Whip until you're left with a fluffy cream, but be careful not to overwhip — the mascarpone will curdle and separate if agitated heavily. 

To assemble:

In a fancy, shallow serving dish, spread a thin layer of the tiramisu cream. Top with a layer of savoiardi. With a plastic squirt bottle, soak the savoiardi completely with the cooled espresso. Repeat this process again, finishing with the tiramisu cream as your top layer. 

Spoon a few tablespoons of the cocoa powder into a double layer of cheesecloth, pull it into a fist-sized ball and gently shake the cocoa onto the top of the tiramisu until fully covered.