Ragù Napoletano

Ragù napoletano – kochtopf’ CC BY-SA 2.0

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

The Ragù Napoletano (Neapolitan Ragù) 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 Ragù?


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 Ragù:

In a skillet, saute one onion in oil and lard. Add chopped carrot and celery. Saute 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 shallow heat with the pot covered for about 3-4 hours.

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

Other variations of Ragù may include fresh pork sausages, braciola stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and spices, and pork skins stuffed in the same manner. You can use these meats or other cuts; in any event, the fewer choice cuts are more suitable for this long cooking Ragù. If the meat takes less time to cook, you may add halfway through the cooking process of the Ragù Napoletano.

Regional Recipe from Campania





Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

You can reach Enrico at enricomassetti@msn.com.