Mouthwatering Sunday Gravy Recipe for Italian Food Lovers

Welcome to the wonderful world of Italian-American cuisine! If you’re a fan of The Sopranos, then you’ve certainly heard of Sunday gravy. This is not your average spaghetti sauce – it’s a meat lover’s dream come true. We’re talking meatballs, Italian sausage, pork neck bones, and even veal stew meat all simmered together for hours until the flavors meld into a heavenly concoction.

You might be wondering what makes this recipe so special. Well, let me tell you, it’s not just the mouthwatering combination of meats and spices. It’s the tradition behind it. Sunday gravy has been a staple in many Italian-American households for generations, passed down from grandmothers to mothers to daughters and sons. And now, with this recipe from The Soprano family cookbook, you can bring that tradition into your own home.

But what really sets this recipe apart from others is the quality of the ingredients. You won’t find any premade tomato sauce or store-bought meatballs here – this is authentic Italian-American cooking at its finest. From the San Marzano tomatoes to the freshly grated Romano and Parmesan cheese, every ingredient is carefully selected to ensure maximum flavor.

So go ahead and roll up your sleeves, because making Sunday gravy is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and patience to get it just right, but trust me when I say it’s worth every minute. Let’s get started on this delicious journey together.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Soprano's Sunday Gravy (Spaghetti Sauce)
Soprano’s Sunday Gravy (Spaghetti Sauce)

Listen up folks, as a culinary explorer, I have found the ultimate spaghetti sauce recipe that will blow your taste buds away. I am talking about the Soprano’s Sunday Gravy, an authentic Italian-American recipe hailing straight from the family cookbook of Tony Soprano himself. Trust me when I say this, you won’t be disappointed with this meaty and flavorful dish.

Firstly, let me start by saying that this recipe features a perfect blend of classic Italian ingredients such as fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil that give it its unique flavor profile. But what really sets it apart is its meaty pork neck bones, pork spareribs, and veal stew meat that create a rich and hearty texture unlike any other spaghetti sauce you’ve tried before.

But why stop there? The Soprano’s Sunday Gravy also includes savory Italian sausages and mouth-watering meatballs made from ground beef and eggs that are bound to tantalize your taste buds. Pair it with your favorite pasta shells or rigatoni, and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal bursting with flavors of Romano cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh flat-leaf parsley, salt, and pepper.

And let’s not forget about the flexibility that comes with this recipe. You can switch up the ingredients based on your preferences or make substitutions to accommodate dietary restrictions. Plus, this recipe is versatile enough to feed all crowds regardless of their cultural backgrounds or age groups.

So trust me when I say this Soprano’s Sunday Gravy is more than just a spaghetti sauce; it’s an experience that will transport you to Italy right from your dinner table. Try it out for yourself and see why it’s been a favorite among Italian-Americans for generations.

Ingredient List

 A pot full of soulful ingredients that will have your mouth watering
A pot full of soulful ingredients that will have your mouth watering

Get Ready To Shop!

Before you get your hands on this authentic Sopranos Sunday Gravy recipe, make sure to have the following ingredients in hand. Trust me; it’s going to taste better than any marinara sauce you’ve ever had.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb meaty pork neck bones
  • 1 lb pork spareribs
  • 1 lb veal stew meat
  • 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausages, about four links
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans of Italian tomatoes (28 oz each), crushed by hand
  • 2 cans of Italian tomato paste (6 oz each)
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and/or grated Romano cheese
  • Cooked pasta shells or rigatoni pasta, for serving

Note: You can easily half or double the recipe depending on the number of persons dining with you.

The Recipe How-To

Heat the Olive Oil

First things first: Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. The heat from the oil will allow the other flavors to meld and create a harmonious and flavorful sauce.

Sizzle The Garlic and Brown The Meat

Next, add six minced garlic cloves to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add one pound of ground beef, one pound of meaty pork neck bones, one pound of pork spareribs, and one pound of veal stew meat.

Note: You can substitute the meats with Italian sausages or any other protein as per your preference.

Cook for about 10 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces until it is browned on all sides.

The Sauce

Now it’s time to add in the star of the show – canned whole Italian tomatoes (2 cans) that you will need to crush with your hands before adding them in. Afterward, stir in one can (12 oz) tomato paste until fully combined with the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to get all those tasty bits off the bottom of the pot as well!

More Meat, Please!

Add one meaty pork neck bone, one pound of pork spareribs, and two veal shoulder chops to the pot. Then pour in about 1 cup of water or more as needed to thin the sauce, making sure all meat is well immersed.

Simmer Away

Bring everything to a boil before reducing heat to low and letting it simmer for at least four hours or until you can’t resist tasting it anymore. Don’t forget to stir occasionally, so no burnt bits are left at the bottom.

What Difference Does It Make?

You may ask yourself what difference this sauce has compared to any other marinara sauce out there? The answer is: Sunday Gravy. Sunday Gravy is an Italian-American dish that has become an emblematic tradition in modern American pop culture thanks to Tony Soprano’s love for it.

Meatballs anyone?

This recipe also works wonders when making meatballs for spaghetti; just like Tony’s Ma would make them! Using your preferred meatball recipe, add around a quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese , quarter cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, one extra-large egg beaten and add pepper according to taste preferences.

Form into balls that are around 1 1/2 inches in diameter and bake for around 20 minutes until evenly browned.

Serve hot over a bed of perfectly cooked pasta shells, rigatoni pasta or any shape you like.

Buon appetito!

Substitutions and Variations

 Our secret family recipe, perfected over generations
Our secret family recipe, perfected over generations

Now, let’s talk about how you can put your own spin on this classic recipe. I know that not everyone has access to the exact same ingredients, so I’m here to offer some substitutions and variations that you can try.

Firstly, for those who don’t eat pork products, you can easily swap out the pork neck bones and spareribs with beef bones or even chicken wings for added flavor. Italian sausages are a must-have in this dish, but if you’re vegetarian or vegan, plant-based alternatives like Beyond Meat or Impossible meatballs can be used as a replacement.

If you’re looking for a healthier version of this dish, consider using turkey meatballs or ground turkey instead of beef. You can still enjoy the robust flavors while cutting back on calories and fat.

For our gluten-free friends, simply swap out the pasta shells and rigatoni pasta with gluten-free varieties. Keep in mind that gluten-free pasta may cook faster than regular pasta, so pay close attention when cooking it.

If you want to get creative with your seasonings, try adding red pepper flakes to kick up the heat a notch or even substituting fresh oregano for basil. For an extra depth of flavor, add some red wine to the sauce while it’s simmering.

Lastly, when it comes to cheese selections, Romano cheese or grated parmesan cheese should be used to achieve its desired taste. But if you’re feeling adventurous and want something different than pasta, try using this sauce as a topping on pizza or even as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks!

So don’t be afraid to explore different options and make this recipe your own—after all, cooking is all about experimenting and having fun in the kitchen.

Serving and Pairing

 The perfect Sunday dinner: Soprano's Sunday Gravy simmering on the stove
The perfect Sunday dinner: Soprano’s Sunday Gravy simmering on the stove

Once you’ve prepared the soulful and savory Soprano’s Sunday Gravy, it’s time to decide how to serve it up. This classic dish is best paired with your favorite pasta, but not just any pasta––rigatoni or large pasta shells are recommended to capture as much of that hearty tomato sauce as possible.

As a finishing touch, generously sprinkle some grated romano cheese and parmesan cheese over the top to add an extra layer of flavor that will make your taste buds sing.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try pairing this dish with a wine that can hold its own with the bold flavors of the gravy. A full-bodied Italian red such as Chianti or Sangiovese will elevate your dining experience and make you feel like you’re dining right in Italy.

Another traditional way to serve this dish is to add meatballs, sausage, veal stew meat or even pork spareribs right into the sauce. This will create an even heartier and more satisfying meal for those looking for a protein-packed twist on the classic recipe.

No matter how you choose to serve it up, Soprano’s Sunday Gravy will hit all the right notes for any Italian-American comfort food lover looking for an authentic taste of tradition on their plate.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

Now that you know how to make this amazing Sunday Gravy, let’s talk about how you can plan ahead and keep the deliciousness going. If you’re like me, you want to maximize your time in the kitchen while still having amazing meals throughout the week. Luckily, this sauce is perfect for making ahead of time and storing for later use.

To start with, let’s talk about storing. You don’t want all that hard work to go to waste. It’s important to store this sauce correctly so it can be enjoyed for up to a week afterward. Allow the sauce to cool completely down before dividing it into smaller portions and placing them into airtight containers. Be sure to label the containers with the date so there is no confusion when planning meals. You can store them in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how long you intend to keep it.

When you’re ready to eat, reheating the sauce is super easy. Find an appropriately sized pot for the amount of sauce you’re reheating and slowly bring it up to temperature over a medium heat, stirring occasionally so that all parts of the sauce are equally heated. If needed, add a bit of water to thin it out as it heats up.

And don’t be afraid to get creative! This sauce is versatile and works well with a variety of dishes. You can use it over pasta shells, rigatoni pasta or any other pasta dish that suits your fancy. Meatballs will also soak up its delicious flavors nicely.

The best part? Making this Sunday Gravy is like giving yourself permission to take a break from meal planning for a few days because you already have something prepped and ready for when hunger strikes. Satisfying and practical – just like dinner recipes should be!

Tips for Perfect Results

When it comes to cooking, attention to detail is everything. A small mistake in the preparation process can drastically alter the final product. As someone who has made this dish countless times, I have picked up a few tips and tricks that will ensure your Sunday Gravy comes out just as delicious as mine.

Firstly, do not be afraid to let your meat brown. The browning process will give the sauce a rich flavor and enhance its texture. I would recommend using a wide pot or pan for this step, to ensure an even distribution of heat on the meat.

Secondly, make sure to season well. While many of the ingredients in this recipe may be flavorful on their own, it is important to add enough salt and pepper to bring out their full potential. It is always better to start with a conservative amount and gradually adjust as needed.

Speaking of seasoning, do not forget about fresh herbs! Adding some chopped parsley and basil at the end of the cooking process will give your Sunday gravy a bright pop of color and flavor. Trust me; it makes all the difference.

In addition, if you find that your sauce is too thick, don’t hesitate to add some water. This will thin it out and help distribute the flavors more evenly.

Finally, my biggest piece of advice is to let your Sunday Gravy simmer for several hours. The longer it cooks, the richer and more complex the flavors become. Plus, your home will smell incredible!

Keep these tips in mind when making Soprano’s Sunday Gravy recipe and you’re sure to impress even the most discerning pasta lovers!


Now that you’ve learned how to make this decadent and authentic Soprano’s Sunday Gravy, it’s time to address some common questions you might have about the recipe. Whether it’s about ingredient substitutions or storage tips, I’ve got your back on this one. So, sit back, relax, and let me answer some of your most pressing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

What’s the difference between Sunday gravy and sauce?

If you’re curious about the difference between tomato sauce and Sunday Gravy, you’ve come to the right place. Although both are tomato-based red sauces, Sunday Gravy is distinct because it involves the addition of meat. The meat used in Sunday Gravy is often bone-in and savory, like pork ribs, beef, and sausages, and they are cooked in the sauce for hours to infuse the sauce with their deliciousness.

What do they call spaghetti sauce on The Sopranos?

On the 20th anniversary of The Sopranos, Vincent decided to try his hand at making tomato sauce. He opted for a traditional Marinara sauce that he calls “gravy” because of his upbringing. His recipe uses imported Italian tomatoes and excludes sugar as an ingredient. This sauce is a straightforward yet flavorful option for any home cook to try.

What is the difference between marinara and Sunday sauce?

Sunday gravy and marinara sauce share many of the same foundational ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and herbs such as oregano and basil. The key difference between the two is the addition of meat in Sunday gravy.

What is Sunday sauce made of?

If you’re looking for a hearty meal to warm your soul on a Sunday, then Sunday Gravy is the way to go. This recipe involves creating a robust tomato sauce base by combining fragrant garlic, onions, earthy herbs, and a rich red wine. The next step is to cook an assortment of meats in the sauce at a low temperature, allowing the flavors to deepen and the meat to become extra tender.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Soprano’s Sunday Gravy is a recipe that will become a staple in your household. With its rich and meaty flavor, it will transport you to the streets of Italy and make you feel like a true Italian-American. The combination of meatballs, pork neck bones, and sausages creates a depth of flavor that will make your taste buds dance with joy. By using the highest quality ingredients such as Italian tomatoes and fresh herbs, you can guarantee a delicious and authentic Italian meal.

Not only does this recipe make for an incredible dinner, but it also brings people together. Whether celebrating special occasions or enjoying a simple meal on a Sunday evening, Soprano’s Sunday Gravy is the perfect crowd-pleasing dish.

With our tips and recommendations for substitutions and variations, you can easily adapt the recipe to suit your preferences. And our make-ahead and storing tips ensure that you can enjoy the flavors of Italy all week long without compromising taste or texture.

So next time you are in the mood for an authentic Italian-American meal, forget about those bottled sauces and give this homemade sauce recipe a try. I guarantee that once you taste the difference between store-bought marinara sauce and Soprano’s Sunday Gravy, there will be no going back. So grab your apron, put on some Frank Sinatra tunes, and get ready to cook up a storm with Soprano’s Sunday Gravy.

Soprano's Sunday Gravy (Spaghetti Sauce)

Soprano’s Sunday Gravy (Spaghetti Sauce) Recipe

Badda-bing badda-boom. Its a thing of beauty. This recipe is not a fast one, its an all afternoon dinner; But it is definitely worth it. From The Soprano Family Cookbook
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 cups
Calories 798.5 kcal


For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb meaty pork neck bones or 1 lb pork spareribs
  • 1 lb veal stew meat or 2 veal shoulder chops
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 (28 ounce) cans peeled Italian tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef (or combination of beef or pork)
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese or 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To Serve

  • 1 lb pasta shells or 1 lb rigatoni pasta, cooked and hot
  • freshly grated romano cheese or parmesan cheese


  • To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
  • Pat the pork dry and put the pieces in the pot.
  • Cook turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides.
  • Transfer pork to a plate.
  • Brown the veal in the same way and add it to the plate.
  • Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides.
  • Set the sausages aside with the pork.
  • Drain off most of the fat from the pot.
  • Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden.
  • Remove and discard the garlic.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  • With a food mill (I use a Braun hand blender) puree the tomatoes, with their juice into the pot.
  • Or for a chunkier sauce, just chop up the tomatoes and add them.
  • Add the water; and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the pork, veal, sausages, and basil and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
  • If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water.
  • Meanwhile, make the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl.
  • Mix together thoroughly.
  • Rinse your hands with cool water and lightly shape the mixture into 2 inch balls.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet.
  • Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides.
  • They will finish cooking in the sauce.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a plate.
  • After the sauce has cooked for its two hours, add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the meats are very tender.
  • To serve, remove the meats from the sauce and set aside.
  • Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Serve the meats as a second course, or reserve them for another day.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 5022gCalories: 798.5kcalCarbohydrates: 63.9gProtein: 47.1gFat: 39.1gSaturated Fat: 12.9gCholesterol: 169.4mgSodium: 1276.4mgFiber: 6.2gSugar: 11.4g
Keyword < 4 Hours, European, Sauces, Spaghetti, Weeknight
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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