15 ratings

Morello's Meatballs


The secret to chef Kevin Garcia’s meatballs at his restaurant Morello is thick, decadent brioche bread used as breadcrumbs. Garcia believes in an 80/20 ratio of meat to fat, and warns not to overwork your meat mixture. By overworking it, you force out the air and create a dense meatball. He also likes to make his a day advance and let them sit in the sauce before he serves them.

"Although not scientifically proven, meatballs usually taste better the next day, [because] they have time to absorb the flavor of the tomato braise," he tells us.

Click here to see How to Make a Better Meatball.


For the meatballs

  • 1/2 Pound ground beef
  • 1/2 Pound ground veal
  • 1/2 Pound ground pork
  • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Brioche rolls, torn up and soaked in milk
  • 5 leaves fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

For the sauce

  • 12 Cups tomato purée
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 Cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small red onion, julienned

For serving

  • 4 Tablespoons grated Fontina cheese
  • 4 slices Tuscan bread
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


For the meatballs

Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and mix with your hands. It’s imperative that the ingredients are mixed well but not overmixed. Use olive oil to coat your hands or use rubber gloves to form meatballs. The size of your meatballs is based on personal preference. Brown the meatballs in a frying pan in ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Once they are brown on all sides, take them out and set aside. 


For the sauce

In the same frying pan, add the garlic and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato purée, parsley, basil, and red pepper flakes. Add the meatballs and simmer for 2 hours with or without a lid on very low heat, stirring occasionally.

For serving

Place 6 meatballs in a single serving, oven-proof dish with some sauce. Lightly sprinkle with grated Fontina cheese. Place in the broiler until the cheese is golden brown and melted. Serve with a piece of Fettunta – which is Tuscan bread rubbed with garlic and brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, then grilled.