Ragu Napoletano

Naples has its own ragu’, with as many variations as you might imagine. Its nickname is ragu’ guardaporta, which means “doorman’s ragu’ ” because a doorman supposedly having nothing else to do but watch the main entrance could watch the slow cooking of the ragu’ as well.

The ragu’ Napoletano (Neapolitan ragu’) has been written about in poems, such as that penned by journalist Giuseppe Marotta:

What an aroma…
How delicious! And you, Maria, dip the fork in
No, wait! Let us examine our conscience first!
I love you, and I am faithful to you!
What about you, Maria?
Let us think, well…
Are we really worthy of this ragu’?


1 onion, thinly sliced
2 oz. oil
1 oz. lard, chopped
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
8 oz. whole top round
1 lb. whole veal shank
8 oz. short pork ribs
3 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
20 basil leaves
salt and pepper

How to make the Neapolitan Ragu’:

In a skillet, saute one onion in oil and lard. Add chopped carrot and celery. Saute them until wilted but not browned, add the meats and saute until browned on all sides.

Add the peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes, basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook over very low heat with the pot covered for about 3-4 hours.

When the ragu’ is ready, remove the meat from the casserole and set aside. Use the sauce as a condiment for maccheroni, and serve the various meats with it or as a second course.

Other variations of ragu’ may include fresh pork sausages, braciola stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and spices, and pork skins stuffed in the same manner. These meats may also be used or instead of other cuts; in any event, the fewer choice cuts are more suitable for this long cooking ragu’. If meats take less time to cook, they may be added halfway through the cooking process of the ragu’ Napoletano.