Rao’s Restaurant in Manhattan, New York, is one of the most famous Italian restaurants in the world. Unfortunately, it’s so tiny (about ten tables) and popular that it’s virtually impossible to get a table there. So what’s so special about this place? Their food, especially Rao’s meatballs in marinara sauce. The place was established in 1896, so you can imagine they are doing something right.
Italian food at its best is very simple and made of fresh ingredients. That’s what this recipe is all about. Original Rao’s meatballs in marinara sauce recipe is public knowledge since they have it even on their website. The marinara sauce recipe, however, is secret. This is our version of Rao’s Marinara, which we have tested and fine-tuned over the years. And like the meatballs, the marinara sauce contains no readymade ingredients except Italian canned tomatoes. Sometimes we replace those with fresh ones, but the canned tomato brings unique flavor to the sauce.
Comforting Rao’s Meatballs in Marinara Sauce Recipe
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
- 800 grams Roma tomatoes - canned
- 5 medium tomato - fresh
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion - minced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 dash sea salt
- 1 dash ground black pepper - ground
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 bunch basil - fresh
- 1 kilogram ground beef (minced beef)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 large egg
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese - freshly grated
- 1 bunch parsley - chopped
- 1 dash sea salt
- 1 dash ground black pepper
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup olive oil
Marinara Sauce Instructions
- Place a saucepan on medium heat and add olive oil. Soften minced onions and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes when the oil is hot.
- Add canned tomatoes to the pan. Remove the skins of fresh tomatoes and add them as well.
- Bring to boil and lower the heat so that the mixture slowly simmers. Let it simmer without a lid for 45 minutes and stir every 10 minutes so that the tomatoes begin to break and about half of the liquid is vaporized.
- Add honey and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add torn basil leaves just before serving.
- Mix all the ingredients except the oil with the ground meat. Make the meatball mixture nice and even with your hands. If you are using only beef (as we did), you can safely check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed. The mixture should be fluffy and very moist. Roll 8 large meatballs with wet hands.
- Pour the oil into a large saucepan and bring it to 150 degrees Celsius. Put the meatballs in the oil. The oil level should go to the middle of the meatballs. Fry the meatballs from one side for about 10 minutes (the reason why the oil is not very hot is that the big meatballs’ interior cooks properly without burning them). Turn the other side and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Make some pasta (check out our previous post for instructions on how to make fresh pasta from scratch) and serve the meatballs with the marinara sauce.