Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce

5 from 10 votes

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This Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce recipe basically came about after experimenting with an idea I had after reading about ancient Roman cooking ingredients. The meatball in tomato sauce, that humble and quintessential meal synonymous with Italy is what’s being served up today, but with a twist of course!

Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce

Today I’m serving you my Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce. In researching some ideas of ancient cuisines I stumbled across the Roman diet. While not big meat eaters in general, their normal meals consisted of lots of vegetables, herbs, fruits and spices.

For what we consider breakfast it was fruit mixed together with wheat porridge or pancakes topped with dates an honey. Breads, olives and cheeses were the average lunch with the possibility of some sort of meat, but the main meal was vegetables, various sausages, meats like various fowl, seafood and fish with meats notably boiled or fried in olive oil.

My first thought was what happened to the open pit fires for roasting, but I’m sure it was done, just not as popular. I mean I was thinking of Italian pizza ovens and such.

These Roman Meatballs have pine nuts, golden raisins, red pepper flakes, herbs and cheeses, then are simmered in a zesty and spicy Arrabbiata Sauce. So good!

Various dishes were sauced and the Romans love their condiments. One in particular was a mixture of fish, vinegars honey, peppers and herbs and spices. Fermented sauces were big. Consider how today we love our Sriracha, catsup and soy sauces.

These Roman Meatballs have pine nuts, golden raisins, red pepper flakes, herbs and cheeses, then are simmered in a zesty and spicy Arrabbiata Sauce. So good!

While this isn’t a roasted peacock or ostrich, it is a simple and easy to put together meal that is big on flavor and bold in taste. The humble and satisfying meatball!

Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce

I decided to incorporate the pine nut and golden raisin, along with red pepper flakes, herbs and cheeses to make this meatball. Simmered in an Arrabbita Sauce, a red pepper spiced tomato sauce, and served over whole wheat spaghetti. With a Type 2 Diabetic in the house here I like to use whole wheat pasta that breaks down slower than regular pasta.

Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over all and dig in!

For other meatball recipes, try my Stuffed Green Chili Meatballs in Tomatillo SaucePersian Meatballs with Dried Cherries and Pistachios, or these Chinese Lemon Chicken Meatballs. Enjoy!

Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce


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A close up of a pasta dish with broccoli on a plate, with Meatball

Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce

5 from 10 votes
These Roman Meatballs have pine nuts, golden raisins, red pepper flakes, herbs and cheeses, then are simmered in a zesty and spicy Arrabbiata Sauce. 
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes


Arrabbiata Sauce

Roman Meatballs


Arrabbiata Sauce

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high flame and add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine, tomato paste, sugar, Italian Seasoning, red pepper flakes and salt and sauté for 2 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer until reduced slightly, about 20 minutes. Season the sauce with more salt to taste. Stir in fresh chopped parsley and use over any pasta dish or meatballs.

Roman Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl thoroughly. Roll into 16 balls and arrange on a lined baking sheet or pan with sides. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and add to a stock pot with the arrabbiata sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta of choice.



  1. I use San Marzano crushed tomatoes or whole (drain is using whole) and crush with my hands into the sauce. Using canned diced tomatoes or a tomato puree just has extra water. If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, I use Roma (plum) tomatoes, they are meatier and it's best to buy 2 pounds for this recipe.


Calories: 1007kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 71g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 32g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 216mg | Sodium: 1087mg | Potassium: 1564mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 2695IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 270mg | Iron: 7mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Italian
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!

A wonderfully rich, zesty and spicy tomato sauce made from crushed tomatoes, red wine, garlic and red pepper flakes that is slowly simmered with herbs and onions. Perfect for over any pasta and meatballs.


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. Ahhh Kevin this looks incredible honey! Just glorious! And I love the history! Sounds like the Romans were my kind of people for the most part…with their plant based ways 🙂 And your pictures are just phenom!

  2. I have a recipe for escarole with pine nuts and raisins but never would have thought to add them to meatballs. I love it! What a beautiful dish you prepared.

  3. 5 stars
    Well, I’m totally down with the Roman diet, especially if these meaty babies are being served up! LOVE that arrabbiata sauce! And I loooove that you used beef and pork for the meat-a-balls! I want to steal a platter of these from you, Kevin! Pinned! Cheers, buddy!

  4. 5 stars
    Where do I start? First of all, to be able to tell my family “we’re eating (kind of) from ancient Rome” will have them certainly intrigued. And I LOVE the combination of pinenuts and golden raisins with meat. These meatballs look like just what we need in my kitchen. Love that I can add whatever marinara kind of sauce I want but will probably use an Arrabbiata sauce myself. A beautiful meal in less than an hour. Hmmm, this might be the Valentine’s “family” dinner on Sunday. Your Roasted Tomato Polenta is being requested by my boys, however. Maybe those and a filet mignon on the side. Great recipe and pictures!

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Kevin, I think this is one of the best meatball recipes I’ve come across. Thinking about biting into the pine nuts with all of the other textures and getting that surprise hit of sweetness from the raisins is making me want to run to the grocery store right now! I can’t wait to try this!

  6. I love that you’ve revived a very old and classic Roman dish. I went through a phase years ago, reading up on ancient food around Europe and the UK. I even made a few. They loved their unusual combinations of savoury, sweet and spicy – well, unusual for our modern western palates, anyway.

    Great recipe you’ve done, Kevin!

    1. Thanks John. I will need to sift through some of your older posts to check them out – if you posted them anyways. The one that is most interesting and maybe one I would be leery of, but try, is the garum (fish sauce).

  7. What a great idea to balance the spicy sauce with sweet raisins. Super creative. Plus I love using pine nuts. The Hubby would devour this dish! Happy Birthday!

  8. 5 stars
    Oh Kevin, you didn’t! I just drooled all over my keyboard, for God’s sake. LOL
    1) The pictures. STUNNING! Fabulous! I’m in love!
    2) How I wish you lived here in NY so I could come over to eat your food. I have a feeling we would be best friends.
    Have a wonderful day! 🙂

  9. Hey Kevin! It is COLD here (18 degrees) and we have snow so I am definitely craving comfort food! I happen to have all these ingredients on hand! Winner, winner meatball dinner! 🙂

    1. It WAS cold here, I actually used the heater recently, but it’s almost 84°F today and I’m in shorts again. Crazy weather, but in either temp, these should hit the spot. I love the cheeses and sweet bite from the raisins. Hope you give it a try and stay warm out there Dorothy!

  10. I love it! First of all, you can’t go wrong with classic meatballs and spaghetti. That’s one of the best definitions of comfort food ever! Second, Roman food. I see that you did your research here. I’ve come across some recipes for garum (the fish sauce), and it sounds positively disgusting. But I could most definitely go for bread and olive oil. I think I could make a meal out of that alone. For an interesting read, go check out some of the lavish dinner parties the wealthier Romans hosted. Let’s just say purging was accepted as it allowed you to keep on eating. #WolfpackRomanHistory

    1. I’ve read those Roman dinner party stories, crazy right? Gluttonous for sure, so decadent. I also read about that fish sauce and strange as it seems, think I’d give it a shot! Ancient cooking fascinates me and it would be interesting to taste. Like a anchovy type fish sauce. Hmmmm, anyways, thanks Dave! Have a great day.