Canadian Pizza Magazine

Recipe: Meatballs and Spicy Tomato Sauce

By Rocco Agostino, Executive Chef and Partner, Libretto Restaurant Group, Toronto   

Features In the Kitchen Recipes Libretto Group recipe rocco agostino

Photo courtesy Rocco Agostino, Libretto Group

This is my take on the recipe my mother used to make when I was growing up. Easy to make, slightly spicy, and with a smokey sweetness from the roasted red peppers – giving it a familiar characteristic on a dish that I have enjoyed many times over.

Adding pasta to these tasty meatballs is an option, but enjoying them on their own and using a crostino (grilled bread) to wipe up the sauce on the plate is a great way to enjoy this recipe.

Yield: Serves 4-6 people.



  • 1½ kg ground beef/ ground pork/ ground pork belly
  • ¾ cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup parsley chopped
  • ¼ cup chives, chopped
  • ¼ cup oregano, chopped
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers, puréed
  • ½ cup parmigiano cheese, finely grated
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp black pepper


  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl making sure everything is mixed together.
  • Use standard ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs.
  • Roll the meat in the hand to give it a tight circular shape and place on a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake in the oven at 375 C for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and set aside.

Enjoying these tasty meatballs on their own and using a crostino (grilled bread) to wipe up the sauce on the plate is a great way to enjoy this recipe.

Tomato sauce for spicy meatballs


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ large onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic (2 cloves), finely chopped
  • 1 litre canned San Marzano tomato, puréed
  • ¼ basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup bomba (Italian spicy condiment found at most grocery stores)
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • 6 slices of crostini from a baguette, index finger thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup parmigiano cheese, coarsely grated


  • Add ¼ cup of olive oil to a large enough pot that the meatballs will fit.
  • Sauté the onions over medium heat till translucent.
  • Add chopped garlic and sauté for another minute
  • Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer – for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chopped basil, bomba, salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add meatballs and drippings left in the tray and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.
  • While meatballs simmer, lightly brush crostini with olive oil and bake in a 375 C oven until light golden in colour. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • In a bowl, place 3 meatballs and pour a spoon of sauce over top of each meatball.
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp of the grated parmigiano cheese over top, and add a crostino to each of the plates.

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