Grandma Favazza’s Sugo

10983403_10205059151651447_8066046261600969742_nI can’t claim rights to this Italian gravy recipe inherited through Paul’s family. I never met his Grandmother Mary Favazza, but her cooking heritage lives on. I occasionally make a few adjustments to the recipe. She was fond of Contadina crushed tomatoes, but you can add flavor variation with canned fire-roasted tomatoes. I’ve also use an equivalent volume of fresh, peeled Ripley tomatoes that produced one of the best versions of this sauce.


The secret to this sauce is to finely dice the onion, carrot and garlic in this recipe to the point that these ingredients are almost indiscernible in the sauce when cooked. A food processor can save you a lot of time and tears (from the onion).


The sugo is meant to cook with the neck bone on low heat for several hours. I usually simmer my sugo for about 4 hours. I sometimes add ground beef, meatballs or Italian sausage to the sauce. For those options, I cook those meats separately, drain any extra fat, and add them to the sauce. Grandmother Favazza’s family shared that she used to remove as much meat as she could from the pork neckbones and return the chopped meat to the sauce after cooking. She would also reserve the neckbones for her youngest son Joe to enjoy with the sugo and pasta.


Serve over pasta of your choice. Letting the sauce rest overnight in the fridge only improves the flavor.

This family recipe was nearly lost. Mary Favazza gave the ingredients to daughter in law Paddy Favazza from her hospital bed in the same year she died in 1994. May her legacy endure.

Grandma Favazza's Sugo

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 tbsp olive oil (1 + 2, divided)
  • 1 Onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Carrot, chopped fine
  • 4 Cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 14.5 oz. can of peeled, whole tomatoes (pureéd in a blender)
  • 1 14.5 oz can of water, broth, or stock
  • 0.5 lb pork neckbones trimmed of fat
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of sugar (only if the carrots didn’t make it sweet enough)


  1. Sear pork neck bones in an large enameled cast iron pot or other large stew pot with 1 tbsp of olive oil and set aside. Alternatively, you can parboil the neck bones in boiling water.
  2. Sauté chopped vegetables in the remaining olive oil in a same pot until softened. Deglaze the pot when you begin sauteing the garlic, onions and carrots by scraping the fond from bottom and edges of the pot. Add pureéd tomatoes and water and spices through oregano with neck bones (If adding ground beef, cook in separate pan, drain fat, and add to sauce).
  3. Bring pot to a boil, stir and reduce heat to a low simmer for at least to 2 hours, preferably half a day. Stir occasionally while simmering and add water, stock or broth as needed.
  4. Serve over pasta of your choice. If making ahead, cool sugo in the refrigerator and skim cooled fat from the top before re-heating.
Nutrition Facts:
Servings 8.0 – Amount Per Serving – Calories 155/% Daily Value – Total Fat 6 g / 9% (Saturated Fat 1 g – 5% – Monounsaturated Fat 4 g – Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g – Trans Fat 0 g) – Cholesterol 0 mg/0% -Sodium 510 mg/21% – Potassium 592 mg / 17% – Total Carbohydrate 27 g / 9% (Dietary Fiber 13 g / 53% / Sugars 6 g ) – Protein 4 g / 7% – Vitamin A 24% – Vitamin C 12% – Calcium 44% – Iron 58 %

This post was edited with updates on 9/30/2019.

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