Most think of this dish as Italian as a pristine red Vespa or Chianti, but it’s very much an Italian-American culinary innovation. You would, in fact, be hard-pressed finding this dish in Italy, and by many Italians themselves it’s considered a bastardisation of true italianità. Instead, polpette (Italian for meatballs) are served in a soup or as a main (sans the pasta). The origins of this dish are closely connected to the mass migration of Italians, most heavily concentrated in the south. Driven by economic destitution, some 4 million Italians between 1880 to 1990 made the jump across the Atlantic in search of a better life. With decreased living costs in their new-found home, the Italian immigrants went from spending 75% of their income on food in Italy to only 25% of their income on food. With more money came more food, and as a result meat became a staple instead of a rare (if at all) luxury.
Traditionally, the Italian version of the meatball was more reserved in size, but the stateside version evolved into a much denser, thicker sphere. As they increased in size – and therefore became too large for delicate Italian soups – immigrants soon realised they were perfect to braise in sauces made with canned tomatoes, goods which were consistently available in local supermarkets. Whilst traditional Italian wisdom would suggest pairing heavy meat sauces with more robust pasta shapes, the thinner spaghetti was the cheapest and often only one available in 1800s New York. As anyone who has seen The Lady & The Tramp would agree, this dish has now become an enduring part of the Italian-American culinary legacy. It felt only right then to include it amongst our selection. Nestled on a thick bed of spaghetti, our meatballs are of course exactly as New York’s Italian neighbourhoods would expect – melt-in-your-mouth tender yet chock full of meaty flavour. In between the two is a rich sheet of tomato sauce. If you’re anything like us, you might want to get a bib on for this one. Oh, and don’t worry, we won’t judge. Slurp away…
Spaghettoni: Wheat Flour, Egg, Durum Wheat Flour, Water, Salt
Meatball and Marinara Sauce: Meatballs: Beef (60%), Breadcrumbs (Wheat), Parmigiano Reggiano (Milk, Salt, Rennet), Egg, Parsley, Garlic, Wheat Flour, Milk, Vegetarian Oil, Basil, Salt, Black Pepper,. Sauce: Tomatoes (40%), Onion, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Basil, Salt, Black Pepper.
Parmigiano Reggiano: Milk, Salt, Rennet
Please find recipe card here
Spaghettoni: 165g, 284kCal (Calories per 100g)
Meatball and Marinara Sauce: 175g, 245kCal (Calories per 100g)
Parmigiano Reggiano: 8g, 28kCal (Calories per portion)
Please note the above nutritional guidance is based on our estimates only.