The Spuntino Way

After serving up heaping ladles full of John Mariani’s Sunday gravy from our Jan/Feb issue, we wanted to try even more of the Italian specialty. Fortunately for us, the owners of Frankies Spuntino restaurant in Brooklyn, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, obliged. These recipes come to us from The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual, by Falcinelli, Castronovo, and food writer Peter Meehan. Buon appetito!

Frankies Spuntino Tomato Sauce
(Makes about 3 quarts)


1. Combine olive oil and garlic in large deep saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring or swirling occasionally, until garlic is deeply colored—striations of deep brown running through golden cloves—and fragrant. If garlic starts to smell acrid or sharp or is taking on color quickly, pull pan off stove and reduce heat.

2. While garlic is getting golden, deal with tomatoes: Pour them into bowl and crush them with your hands. We like to pull out the firmer stem end from each of the tomatoes as we crush them and discard those along with the basil leaves that are packed into the can.

3. When garlic is just about done, add red pepper flakes to the oil and cook them for 30 seconds or a minute, to infuse their flavor and spice into the oil. Dump in the tomatoes, add the salt, and stir well. Turn the heat up to medium, get the sauce simmering at a gentle pace, not aggressively, and simmer for 4 hours. Stir it from time to time. Mother it a little bit.

4. Check the sauce for salt at the end. The sauce can be cooked with meat at this point, or stored, covered, in the fridge for at least 4 days or frozen for up to a few months.

(Makes 6 servings—18 to 20 meatballs)
Cooked Meatballs