Grandma Zona’s Sauce and Meatballs

Recipe by: Patricia Zona

“As dictated to Gina and Pat in their kitchen in Connecticut”



  • 1 large can (28oz.) peeled whole tomatoes with Italian seasoning
  • 2 medium cans (12 or 16oz.) tomato paste
  • Water
  • Handful of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Handful of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Basil


  • 2 or 3 lbs. of beef/pork/veal combo (meatball mix)
  • Garlic cloves, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Romano/parmesan cheese
  • Parsley flakes
  • 1 egg
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Additional meat: Sweet sausage and Spareribs



Put the ground meat in a large bowl. Cover the mound of meat with grated cheese and parsley.

But bread crumbs in a soup bowl (fill up about half of the bowl) and moisten with a small amount of water. Add the breadcrumbs to the meat. Add the egg, a handful of salt and pepper to taste. Mix the meat with your hands and create balls to desired size.

Cover the bottom of a frying pan with oil and add several garlic cloves. Brown the garlic and then remove garlic. Add the meat (meatballs, spareribs and sausage) to the pan and brown on all sides. Do not cook through (they will finish cooking in the sauce). Set aside until ready to add the meat to the sauce.


Put peeled tomatoes in a large pot and crush with your hands. Cook them down on medium heat until the pulp is gone and the liquid is reduced by half (about 30 or 40 minutes).

Add the tomato paste and blend with the tomatoes then add enough water so that the pot is about 3/4s full. The consistency of the sauce at this point will be thin.

Bring to a boil and then remove the foam from the top. Add all the seasonings (salt, pepper, cinnamon, sugar and basil) and wait a few minutes for the flavors to blend.

Add all the meat and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for at least 3 hours stirring occasionally. The longer is stays simmering, the thicker the sauce will get.