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Marinara Sauce

A fantastic, authentic Marinara Sauce recipe from Boston's famous North End Italian neighborhood.


Boston’s historic North End neighborhood has a long-standing heritage, and it is famous for being the home of patriot Paul Revere and other colonial-era American landmarks.  But the North End is also sometimes referred to as Boston’s Little Italy, and it is equally famous for its Italian heritage!  The neighborhood is home to numerous restaurants serving fantastic, authentic Italian cuisine and it attracts crowds of locals and tourists alike!

This recipe for Marinara Sauce is adapted from The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane, one of the North End’s most celebrated cooks!  An old friend of mine who came from a large Italian family originally told me about this wonderful cookbook, and I just had to buy it for my collection when she told me that everyone in her family referred to this book as “our family cookbook” because the recipes were so similar to their own Italian grandmother’s recipes.

A fantastic, authentic Marinara Sauce recipe from Boston's famous North End Italian neighborhood.


This marinara sauce has some wonderfully complex flavors!  The classic flavors of plum tomatoes, garlic, onion, and basil are enhanced and complemented by a small amount of mint, and the sauce also gets a little kick from a pinch of red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.


A fantastic, authentic Marinara Sauce recipe from Boston's famous North End Italian neighborhood.

This sauce is also very versatile and quick to make!  It can be used not only as a sauce over pasta and meatballs, but also as a dipping sauce with fried mozzarella or risotto balls.  We hope you enjoy this authentic taste of Boston’s North End neighborhood in your own home!


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Marinara Sauce - A Family Feast

Marinara Sauce

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes crushed by hand (just reach in and squeeze the tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Few grinds of black pepper


  1. Place olive oil, onions and garlic in a cool sauce pan and gradually bring up heat to medium high. (Heating it this way makes the onions very soft.) Once the oil is hot and the onions and garlic are bubbling, cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients. Stir and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree until desired consistency. (We like our marinara sauce to be a bit chunky.)
  4. Use as a dipping sauce or over pasta.

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  1. Mmmmmm I’m so glad you posted this recipe and about this cookbook! I love the North End. I recently took my husband back to Boston with me. When I think Boston I think about the North End.

  2. Wonderful recipe and I love the story behind the cookbook =0)
    PS: also am now a new subscriber to your blog.

  3. This looks so good! It is seriously making me want pasta, or pizza, or just bread for dipping, like right now!

  4. Love this recipe!!! We go through a lot of marinara in our house!!

  5. what brand of tomatoes do you use?

  6. Johnatha Jones :

    Hmmm! This was delicious! Reminds me of Italy.

  7. A simple and easy recipe that produces wonderful results. I love this marinara! I have used it for so many recipes; stuffed peppers, Italian, meatloaf, over zucchini noodles….. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  8. these look delicious, definetly going to try Marinara been looking for one and from a true Italian its got to be delish. thank you for sharing

  9. I made this tonight. The Italian market was closed so I couldn’t get any San Marzano tomatoes, I just used regular canned. And the grocery store was out of fresh basil so I used dried. I had planned to serve it with meatballs but left the meat at the grocery store. I ended up just frying up some hamburger from frozen and this was still fantastic. It will be added to my regular rotation and will be making double batches.

  10. I made this last night for a dinner party. It was absolutely delicious! I made it almost exactly as your recipe calls, but I did add a few extra ingredients to kick the flavor up a notch. I added bell peppers in with the onions when sautéing. I also put 1 roasted red pepper and a handful of sundried tomatoes in the food processor with a bit of the sauce, then added a little more sauce and pulsed and then left some of the sauce chunky. That seemed to make a really great consistency. I cooked on low for a few hours so I added 2 cans of tomato sauce to keep the liquid levels right. And I did add fresh herbs because I had them on hand. And added meat to make it a meat sauce because that’s just what I like.

    So so good! I’ll definitely be using this as my base recipe from now on.

  11. Hi I would like your recipe for cucumber relish, I made it last year but have mislaid your recipe.

  12. I will try this recipe, I was married to an Italian who made sauce/gravy every Sunday. He cooked the meatballs in the sauce too. I could never make sauce though, I always ruined it so I stuck with jarred sauce. Some are good, but I would like to make it mysel. Question, I have never heard o mint in sauce. I can’t even get it in the stores, especially this time o year. How can I improvise?

    • Hi Christine – No worries…you can always leave the mint out. It adds an additional hint of flavor but if you can’t find it at the supermarket, it’s perfectly fine to leave it out. We hope you enjoy the recipe!