Traditional Italian Meatballs

In Italy, if you ask for Spaghetti and meatballs, you’ll get a puzzled look. However, if you’re in the Abruzzo Region of Italy 🇮🇹, you’ll be pleased you can order “ Chitarrine alla Teramana”. This is the closest you’ll find to Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Grandpa Tony was from Abruzzo Region, therefore, “Chitarrine alla Teramana “ is a traditional Abruzzese pasta dish, said to “date back to 1600.”

The dinner starts with Spaghetti alla chitarra, also known as maccheroni alla chitarra; a variety of egg pasta typical of the Abruzzo region in Italy, with a square cross section about 2–3 mm thick. Now, add traditional tomato sauce with mini meatballs, made with ground beef, ground pork, egg yolks, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. I remember the intense labour involved, when Grandpa Tony made these tiny meatballs. Of course, when it was my turn, somehow the meatballs became larger and larger – lol. Such a tedious labour intense process, when the meal was eaten up in lickety-split.

Interesting “Spaghetti alla chitarra” literally means “Spaghetti with guitar” which is the type of guitar tool used to make the spaghetti, giving the spaghetti its name, shape, and texture. This type of spaghetti soaks up the sauce, leaving a more satisfying taste of flavours.

So, next time you’re in the Abruzzo Region of Italy 🇮🇹, be sure to look out for “ Chitarrine alla Teramana”, the closet you’ll find to spaghetti and meatballs.

Ok — so here’s my Grandpa’s Authentic ( Traditional) Italian Meatball Recipe:


1/2 Ib of ground beef

1/2 Ib of ground pork

1/4 cup of milk

3 slices of white bread cubed

2 eggs

1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

3 cloves of fresh minced garlic

3 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning ( oregano and basil mix)

Fresh grated sweet orange peel

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg


1. Soak 1/4 cup of milk with cubed white bread. Squeeze out liquid and add to large bowl.

2. In same bowl add the rest of ingredients above.

3. Mix together and form into tiny meatballs or — if you’re like me, my meatballs are bigger – lol. ( Don’t tell my Grandpa Tony – Mamma Mia!)

4. Place on baking sheet and place in preheated oven at 400 degrees F and cook for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and place meatballs into a rich tomato sauce and let cook slowly for 50/60 minutes — see my recipe here.

I dearly hope you enjoy my recipes and stories of Italy 🇮🇹 Please take a minute to support my efforts by either buying me a coffee


Purchase my published cookbook “ Canadian Recipes of the Great White North”.

Ciao !

Chef Bari


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