Glistening noodles awash in marinara sauce. Super tender meaty, meatballs. A little bacon. A gentle sear. A sweet but not-too sweet tomato sauce with a bit of parm. A generous helping of garlic, and a touch of fresh herbs. And lots of leafy basil. It's surprising that something so good has fallen off the radar. Welcome the sunny Italian countryside into your home. The meatballs might take a little bit of time but are worth every minute. We think long-strand bucatini, with its hollowed out middle, is a superior pasta to spaghetti noodles although the latter is authentic and perfectly acceptable. Our newest olive oils will add freshness and a healthy sear to your meatballs. And a bit of Blood Orange in your marinara? The harmony of sweet and savoury.


For the meatballs

3 thick crustless slices of soft white bread
1 tbsp Garlic EVOO or 2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan (plus extra for serving)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped thick-cut bacon or pancetta (if you can find it)
1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 pound ground beef (80% lean or less)
1/4 cup fresh extra virgin olive oil for frying
Fresh basil, torn into small pieces for garnish

For the sauce:

Large can whole San Marzano tomatoes
5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced (not minced)
1 tbsp Orange EVOO
3 tbsp fresh EVOO + 1 tbsp Butter EVOO for final finish
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup water
3 to 4 fresh, whole basil stems with leaves
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

For the pasta:

450g spaghetti pasta (or bucatini)
10 cups water
3 tbsp salt


For the meatballs: Soak bread in water. Wring out the water completely. Cut into small pieces, then place in large bowl with eggs, Garlic oil (or fresh minced garlic cloves), Parmesan and bacon pieces. Combine, then add parsley, black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt. Add meat. Blend by hand until completely smooth (but careful to not overmix). Before rolling into balls, take a bit of olive oil and rub in palms of hands. Take enough of the mixture to make 1-1/2 inch same-size balls using a light touch between palms to avoid a tough result. Place on large plate or baking sheet. Set aside. Heat oil on medium in a large skillet. Add meatballs and saute until browned on all sides. Rest on a clean sheet pan until marinara sauce is complete. Add to sauce and cook for another 15 to 20  minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Add prepared bucatini directly from pot using flat tongs. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl or deep platter. Garnish with lots of basil leaves and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan.

 For the sauce: Pour tomatoes into a large bowl. Crush with your hands. Avoid using a blender or processor. Add a cup of water and mix. Set aside. Place large skillet on medium heat. Add both oils (excl Butter EVOO), then garlic. When barely golden but not browned, add the tomato mixture from bowl. Add pepper flakes, Butter EVOO, salt and basil to mixture. Combine and simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove basil stems. Add meatballs. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Option: Substitute best store-bought.

For the pasta: Bring water and salt to a rolling boil in a large pot.  Add bucatini, then stir gently to make sure the strands are separated. Bring to boil, uncovered for about 6 minutes to just less than al dente. Remove from heat. Using flat tongs, place noodles directly into sauce with meatballs. Don't be afraid to add pasta water. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes.