The key to making these meatballs is to brown them first in a skillet and then braise them in a sauce of red wine and tomatoes. Serve them with crusty bread or spaghetti to sop up the sauce. Get the recipe for Classic Meatballs »
. Todd Coleman
Nothing beats the classics; here are all the red-sauce-drenched, mozzarella-smothered, and garlic-kissed Italian-American staples we dream of.
Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Marcella Hazan’s devastatingly simple tomato-onion-butter pasta sauce, if full of deep, bright, rich flavors that blend so flawlessly you’d never believe it’s just three ingredients, plus a pinch of sugar and a bit of salt.
This hearty version of San Francisco’s signature seafood soup comes from Sotto Mare in North Beach.
Penne alla Vodka
Whether or not this dish of tube-shaped penne pasta lavished with a peppery, vodka-laced cream and tomato sauce was created in Italy is a matter of heated debate in some quarters; some say it was the result of aggressive marketing on the part of vodka importers. Whatever the case, it has become firmly entrenched as an Italian American classic. Get the recipe for Penne alla Vodka »
For this Italian-American update on Sicily’s eggplant parmesan, veal—once a cheap cut—was subbed in for the purple vegetable. The tender meat is fried in crisp breadcrumbs; smothered with bright tomato sauce, provolone and parmesan cheeses, and dried herbs; and baked until the cheese is oozing and golden.
Add a little kick to this homemade version of Little Caesar’s “Crazy Bread” by sprinkling on a little chile flake before dunking in hot marinara.
Carbone’s Garlic Bread
In a breadbasket at Manhattan’s Carbone, we discovered the Platonic ideal of garlic bread. With roasted garlic butter made from freshly chopped cloves that are by turns sharp and mellow, heat from red chile flakes, and a bit of funk from parmesan, each crunchy bite of baguette, scattered with parsley and chives and bathed in olive oil, is fiercely flavorful and craveworthy.
Calzones don’t always have to be baked—this ham and ricotta version is deep-fried.
Lobster Fra Diavolo
This spicy seafood pasta features large pieces of sweet lobster tossed with bucatini and a fresh, flavorful tomato sauce.
This extra-rich version of fettuccine Alfredo is impossible to resist. Boiling the pasta until it’s just al dente allows it to soak up plenty of the creamy sauce.