Nonie's All-Beef Italian Meatballs

Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery

1401 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Chef Tim Vallery’s great-grandmother (Nonie) moved to the United States when she was 2 years old. This is her very special Italian meatball recipe. Tim has never shared this family recipe before, so feel privileged to be let in on the secret! Check our website to read Tim’s recollection of his beloved Nonie and how she instilled many of her Italian roots in his cooking.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated Vella Dry Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground chuck (certified Angus, 80% lean)
  • 1 3/4 ounces panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Tomato sauce as needed
  • 2 cups water
  • Chopped fresh basil for garnish


Preheat the oven to 500°F.

In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.  

In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, eggs, parsley, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the ground beef and mix thoroughly until blended. Add three-fourths of the panko and mix until combined. Form a meatball, fry it and taste for flavor and texture. If the meatball does not hold its shape, add more panko and repeat. Adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.  
Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Portion out the meat mixture using a .5-ounce scoop. Hand roll the meatballs and arrange them snugly on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper 
Roast in the oven until the meatballs are just caramelized but not burnt. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Transfer the meatballs to a deep baking pan or dish and pour in your favorite tomato sauce and 2 cups water. Cover the pan and braise in the oven for 3 hours. 
To serve, sprinkle the meatballs with a pinch of shredded Vella Dry Jack cheese and basil.