Cavatelli con Ragù alla Napoletana (Gravy and Braciola)

3 hours
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 4 slices of beef, preferably rump steak (about 6 ounces each, sliced or pounded thin, to about 1/4″)
  • 4 slices bacon or pancetta
  • 4 slices salame (Genoa or other Italian variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ounces Pecorino, Parmigiano or provolone cheese, grated or cut in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 28-ounce cans Italian peeled tomatoes, purèed
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound cavatelli (or rigatoni)

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  1. Boil the eggs until hard. Let cool, cut into small pieces, set aside. Finely chop the salame, garlic, and parsley and mix together.
  2. Pat dry the beef slices. Lightly salt and pepper the top side of each. Line them up on a work surface. Place a slice of bacon on the center of each. Evenly spread the salame mixture on top of the bacon, evenly distribute the egg and cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  3. Starting with the narrower end ([of the beef)], carefully roll up each slice, tightly, and fasten with tooth picks.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the braciole, carefully turning until each side is lightly brown. Add the wine and cook for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 2 hours, stirring, frequently and carefully.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  6. Cook the pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directions), drain, and add to a serving bowl, lightly coat with ragu. Serve immediately with additional sauce and a sprinkle of Parmigiano.
  7. Serve the braciole on a separate platter.

Ed's Review

You know what they say: no talk of sex, politics, religion, or ragù at the dinner table. Unless, of course, you are safely among like-minded people, in which case you can rant on as freely as you'd like while making everyone feel better in the process.  Of all these taboo dinner topics, however, the most incendiary and divisive is probably that of how to prepare a proper ragù (also known as in some parts as “gravy," although even that name is controversial).

No pasta meal brings back more memories for me than that of rigatoni or cavatelli with a hearty gravy at my grandparents' house on Sunday afternoons. All of the chaos and delight, and yelling, laughing, hiding, and eating way too much food, inspired me to create Sunday Pasta.

All ragù is local. It’s is a personal thing, a family thing. And so is braciola. Below is my grandmother's recipe for “gravy with braciole.” Some people may add none of her ingredients, and others may add some of them, plus raisins or pine nuts. (Yuck, if you ask me, but don't get me started.)

Like I said, it's best to avoid controversial topics around dinner. I don't mean to stir things up, but some topics are too important to ignore.

To learn more about ragù (and gravy) click here.

Buon Appetito!

Ed Garrubbo

6 thoughts on “Cavatelli con Ragù alla Napoletana (Gravy and Braciola)”

  1. I look forward to trying your recipe for the braciola. My mother was a user of roasted pine nuts and a few raisins, which was also delicious. I’m curious about the bacon, egg and breadcrumbs part. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you for all the recipes you have been sending. You are a hero in our kitchen. Ciao for now, Guido.

    • In our family, we kept it simple. No bacon, salami, raisins or pine nuts. Beef pounded thin, hard-boiled egg, fresh parsley, etc. Rolled, tied with string, cooked – and then steeped in the simmering gravy (that’s what we called it) until tastes were melded and we had all decided we were starving (usually about 2pm on Sundays).
      Grazie, Eduardo.

  2. I forgot to mention. My wife is holding you responsible for the weight gain in this family. It’s worth running around the block for the pleasure of eating this wonderful food. Guido.


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