Meatball and Provolone Subs


Neal's Deli serves tender, oversize pork-and-beef meatballs stuffed into a warm hero roll with melted provolone cheese. Although Matt Neal makes his own chunky tomato sauce for the sub, it's fine to substitute six cups of jarred sauce. 

Meatball-and-Provolone Subs
Photo: © John Kernick
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
8 subs


Tomato Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3 small bay leaves

  • 1/3 cup dry red wine

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with their liquid, 1 can pureed


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 cup plain dried bread crumbs

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 8 hero rolls, split

  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese


  1. In a pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes. Add the basil, thyme, oregano and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until most of the wine is evaporated, 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Cover partially and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400° and brush 2 rimmed baking sheets with olive oil. In a medium skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, sage and crushed red pepper and cook over low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes; scrape into a bowl and let cool.

  3. Add the bread crumbs to the bowl with the cheese, eggs, milk, salt and parsley. Add the pork and beef and knead gently until combined. Roll the mixture into 32 meatballs, about 2 1/2 inches each, and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until nearly cooked through, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.

  4. Gently fold the meatballs into the tomato sauce. Simmer over moderate heat, covered, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

  5. Wipe off the baking sheets. Set the open rolls on the baking sheets and top both halves with the sliced provolone. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts. Spoon the meatballs onto the rolls and top with the sauce. Serve right away.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Rewarm before finishing the subs.

Suggested Pairing

Wine or Beer

Overthinking what to drink with these subs will detract from simply enjoying them. Have a big fruity Zinfandel or a refreshing beer like Brooklyn Brewery Lager.

Related Articles