Best Italian Grandma’s Meatball Recipe from Ricardo Scebba!

A Meatball Recipe for Father’s Day!

In honour of Father’s Day quickly approaching (Sunday June 17) I’m giving you Chef Ricardo Scebba’s recipe for his mother’s handmade meatballs! Chef Scebba is the owner and chef at Ricardo’s, an award winning restaurant in the Okanagan.

I had the pleasure of trying some of his dishes at a recent event and I fell in love with his mother’s meatballs. It’s everything I imagined an Italian grandma’s recipe for authentic meatballs to be. It’s a house favourite and for good reason too!

Melt in your mouth tender, super soft, moist and almost creamy, savoury and a bit sweet from the carrots, and still hand rolled by his mother if you try them at the restaurant. The recipe is simple with ingredients and passed down, so it’s tried, tested and true to Italian grandma standards.

These meatballs will make any dad happy… unless he’s vegetarian… in which case, I will take them! It also helps that they can be prepared in advance!

Nonna’s Polpette (Grandma’s Meatballs) Recipe

Recipe courtesy of Ricardo Scebba. From his cook book That’s Amore.

Makes about 30 meatballs.


1 lb regular ground beef (substitute ground turkey for healthier option)
1 lb ground pork
1 cup fine grated parmesan
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper (2 to 1)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2cups white wine

For the mixture:
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup parsley
1 tbsp chicken oxo (optional)


1. Use a food processor to blend the “mixture” ingredients to a pulp.

2. In a bowl, add mixture to remaining ingredients (except wine) and incorporate well. Adjust with bread crumbs for a medium consistency.

3. Oil your hands and roll golf ball sized meatballs until all meat is sealed and you have nice tight evenly rounded balls.

4. Every 4 or 5 meatballs, you will need to add more oil to your hands, or the mix will get sticky and hard to manage.

5. Roll up remaining meatballs.

6. In your best non-stick frying pan, add a generous amount of vegetable oil, so meatballs will be half covered. Place in oil, on medium heat to cook bottoms slowly. Shake the pan occasionally, to make sure your meatballs are not sticking. When browned, very gently, flip meatballs with a spoon to brown other side. Carefully remove meatballs from frying pan to cookie sheet. They will be very fragile at this point, especially if you have used turkey.

7. Drain and discard frying pan oil and carefully put meatballs back into frying pan. Add white wine (about 2 cups or more) until most of the meatballs are covered.

8. Bring heat to high and cook the meatballs in wine. The wine will evaporate as the meatballs cook. Shake the pan to ensure they’re not sticking to the bottom or burning. When almost all wine has evaporated, the meatballs will start making noise. They’re saying “Pay attention to us here or we will burn”. So turn down the heat and tend to your little friends until the wine is mostly gone.

9. The meatballs are nowhere near as fragile now, so you can pour them (along with all the delicious pan scrapings) into a saucepan. Add tomato sauce to cover the meatballs and simmer about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Ricardo’s Tips:

  • I use regular ground beef for a reason. It has a higher fat content and fat makes things taste really good. Although you may choose lean ground beef if you wish.
  • Replace beef with turkey in this recipe for a truly Italian experience. Turkey tends to be more delicate and trickier to work with, so I recommend trying it after you’re comfortable working with the beef.



  • KimHo says:

    There are quite interesting details about this recipe which makes me wonder some things. Before I go to details, in the few instances I have done meatballs, I have followed Alton Brown’s recipe and he does not sear the meatballs. Instead, he bakes them in mini-cupcake tins. I have Italian-Americans do sear the meatballs in oil and then put them in tomato sauce to simmer. However, the one step I am curious about is that of “poaching”/”boiling” the meatballs in wine. I guess my curious nature will make me want to try those two extra steps…

  • sandi says:

    I’m curious – is the tomato sauce just plain tomato sauce, or are we talking about a pasta sauce with onions, garlic, herbs, etc.? I’m definitely going to make these tonight – see how they compare to my nonna’s meatballs.

  • mimihui says:

    Good for HAPPY FATHER DAY~take father for a nice food like that…….!

  • Linda says:

    wow, talk about a no fuss recipe – definitely will try these next weekend 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Sandi – how did they turn out?!? Sorry for the late reply!! The tomato sauce was more like a pasta sauce… or what they call “the Mother sauce” which takes days/hours to make! Did they work? Was your nonna’s better!??!

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo – baking is a good idea too! Interesting using mini-cupcake tins. Like meatloaf!

  • sandi says:

    I did make them last week – they were good….as good as Nonna’s? I don’t think so. I found the garlic to be a bit overwhelming – I’d definitely add less. And it was tricky working with them considering how soft they were before cooking. Some didn’t exactly turn out round…a few were really weird shaped but who cares. Did they make a great meatball hero the next day? oh yeah…..! And by the way I just used plain passata with basil as the tomato sauce.

  • Mijune says:

    @sandi – how do I meet your nonna? 🙂

  • sandi says:

    First you “gotta speaka lika diss…..”.

  • Mijune says:

    @sandi – LOL! I lived with Italians temporarily and that accent came naturally after a day! Sucks that neither knew how to cook though!!! I thought that was taboo? #FakeItalians =p

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