Bolognese sauce, also known as ragù alla Bolognese in Italian, is a meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, a city in northern Italy. The sauce is typically made with ground beef, pancetta or bacon, onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and red wine, and is traditionally served with tagliatelle pasta. Over the years, Bolognese sauce has become a beloved dish around the world, but its origins are deeply rooted in the history of Italian cuisine.

The earliest recorded recipe for a meat-based sauce similar to Bolognese dates back to the 18th century. The recipe, which was written by a chef named Alberto Alvisi, included the use of beef, pancetta, and tomato paste, as well as nutmeg and cinnamon for flavor. Alvisi’s recipe was the first to call for the use of tomatoes in the sauce, which was a relatively new ingredient in Italy at the time. Tomatoes had only recently been introduced to Italy from the New World, and it took some time for them to become widely used in Italian cuisine.

The modern version of Bolognese sauce, as we know it today, emerged in the late 19th century. In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi, a prominent Italian cookbook author, published a recipe for “macaroni with beef ragù” in his famous cookbook, “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene” (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well). Artusi’s recipe called for beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and white wine, and included a detailed cooking process that is still followed by many to this day.

Since then, Bolognese sauce has continued to evolve and become more popular around the world. In the early 20th century, it became a staple in Italian-American cuisine, and it is now a popular sauce for spaghetti and other pasta dishes in many countries.

Despite its worldwide popularity, Bolognese sauce remains a symbol of the culinary traditions of Bologna and the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. In 1982, the Bologna delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina (Italian Academy of Cuisine) officially registered the original recipe for Bolognese sauce with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, to ensure that the traditional recipe is preserved for generations to come.

Today, Bolognese sauce is widely enjoyed in Italian restaurants like Abella Italian Kitchen and homes around the world, and it continues to be a beloved part of Italian culinary culture. The rich and hearty flavors of the sauce, combined with the tender pasta, make it a comforting and satisfying meal that is perfect for any occasion.

At Abella’s you can enjoy our Bolognese sauce with penne pasta in our Penne Con Bolognese. You may also note our hours-long simmered Bolognese sauce is also part of our signature Italian Lasagna. Make your reservation today to try our scratch made Bolognese sauce.