(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

Anthony Contrino grew up making meatballs with his dearest grandmother.

Since she made them from memory, he’s gone through years attempting to reproduce this extraordinary family dish.

This formula is staggeringly simple to make, yet it makes an overly tasty meatball that is delicate within, with a fresh singed covering outwardly.

When you attempt this procedure, you’ll never require another meatball formula!


35 minutes


10 minutes



Every Italian-American thinks his or her grandma makes the best meatballs, and I’m no exception! My gram made the best meatballs. As a young boy I would make them with her, but no matter how hard I tried, I could never replicate them exactly … and I still can’t. But this recipe comes pretty darn close!


    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into chunks
    • 1½ pounds ground beef (80/20 blend)
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
    • 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup grated pecorino
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying



1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

2. Using a mini food processor, puree the garlic and onion, scraping down the sides as needed. A few little chunks are fine, but I prefer a smoother texture.

3. Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to a large bowl. Add the ground beef, milk, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, pecorino, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper. Using your hands, gently mix until all ingredients are combined. Do not mash or overmix the mixture. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes to allow breadcrumbs to hydrate.

4. To fry the meatballs, fill a large, high-sided skillet with 1-inch of vegetable oil, and heat to 350°F.  Meanwhile, using a ¼-cup scoop, scoop out and portion to meat into even balls. Gently roll each portion into a ball, being sure not to pack the meat too tightly.

5. Fry the meatballs in batches, cooking each side until deep brown, about one to two minutes per side. Transfer the meatballs to the foil-lined sheet pan. Bake to an internal temperature of 165°F, about 12 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can finish cooking the meatballs by simmering them marinara sauce for 30 minutes.

6. Serve with a good, homemade tomato sauce and your favorite pasta