Meatballs, rolled with love

June 20, 2008 12:07:54 PM PDT
Some recipes have been around for decades, passed down from generation to generation.But in this edition of Neighborhood Eats, we have a recipe at a restaurant on Long Island that's been in the kitchen for the last century.

The recipe belongs not to a grandmother, but a great grandmother. It's her recipe, right from Italy, taking shape at a restaurant called Cara Mia Due. It's located at 3935 Merrick Road in Seaford.

"They're always looking for her," Sergio Dechantis said. "They want to talk to her. They want to see her."

He's is talking about his great grandmother, Liberata Vani, or Nonna as she's know here. She is 102 years old, and when it comes to making meatballs, there's no stopping her.

The meatballs are a hit at Cara Mia Due, where it's all about family. Nonna's the matriarch. We saw her son-in-law there and also her daughter making fresh ravioli.

And there are always meatballs, made from ground beef and mixed with romano cheese, herbs, garlic and bread crumbs. They are rolled with songs from the heart. Nonna is also known for her singing.

The meatballs are baked in an inch of water in the oven, and, of course, served on top of spaghetti with marinara sauce.

The original Cara Mia is located in Queens in 1971. That location still exists. The Seaford restaurant is the second location.

Recipe for Nonna's meatballs, from Cara Mia Due:


  • 5 pounds ground beef
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/8 cup grated romano
  • 1/8 cup basil
  • 1/8 cup parsley
  • 1/8 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • Pinch pepper
  • 2 cups italian breadcrumbs


  • Mix all ingredients
  • Roll into balls a little bigger than tennis balls
  • Place in large baking pan, with one inch of water and 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Bake at 500 degrees for about an hour.
  • Serve with spaghetti and marinara sauce

    Yields approximately 30 meatballs