Mother’s meatballs

Chef Nunzio Patruno shares his secret family recipe.

A highlight on the menu at Nunzio Restaurant + Bar is Popette Polpette di Mamma Angelina — meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce and pecorino cheese. We reached out to the man himself to see how he makes them and what makes them unique. Try recreating them with this recipe, or make it easy on yourself and order them during happy hour or for dinner at the restaurant. In one bite, your taste buds will be transported from the Lowcountry to the Old Country.

Mix it up

Mix all ingredients together until everything is smooth and free of lumps.

Fit to be fried

Dust your meatballs with flour and fry them at 350 degrees.

Know your onions

Cook down an onion then simmer with wine and tomatoes. Add meatballs.

[LOCAL Life] What makes your meatballs so great? [Nunzio Patruno] What makes them so yummy and great are the details. One, we ground our own meat; and two, we use our own house-made bread. Finally, it’s my mother’s recipe.

[LOCAL Life] What makes your meatball Pugliese-style? [Nunzio Patruno] The slightest ingredients in recipes like these will vary from region to region. And each cook will swear his or her version IS the standard. What makes Nunzio’s meatball dish Pugliese are simply the fresh tomato and basil, and the pecorino cheese.

[LOCAL Life] What wine pairing do you suggest? [Nunzio Patruno] I suggest pairing this dish with two popular Primitivo wines from Puglia, like Botromagno or Conte Zecca, currently featured on our wine list.

[LOCAL Life] What memories do these meatballs bring back? [Nunzio Patruno] Memories of my family enjoying Sunday dinner all together. Priceless.

Nunzio Restaurant + Bar – Polpette di Mamma Angelina

Ingredients (serves 10)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef or veal

1 pound stale bread, soaked and squeezed

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon parsley, chopped

1 cup pecorino cheese, grated

1 pinch oregano

3 eggs

Salt and pepper

Ingredients (sauce)

1 whole onion, sliced

1 ounce olive oil

1 cup plum tomatoes, peeled (San Marzano)

2 ounces white wine

Parmigiano cheese


Directions [1] In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together until the mix is smooth and free of lumps. Roll a tablespoon of the mix into the palm of your hand and make a meatball. [2] Dust them lightly with flour and fry them at 350 degrees. Set aside. [3] In a large sauté pan; cook down the onions until golden. Add the white wine and plum tomatoes and let simmer for five minutes. Then add the meatballs and let simmer for another five to 10 minutes in the sauce. [4] Plate the meatballs in a bowl and sprinkle with pecorino cheese and parsley. Serve.

— Recipe by Chef Nunzio Patruno

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