Make a “Shark Tank”-Sanctioned Marinara Sauce to Satisfy All Your Dipping Desires
Italy native and The Pizza Cupcake co-founder Andrea Meggiato shares his recipe for homemade sauce
A little more than a year ago, Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife team Andrea Meggiato and Michelle Jimenez flew to Las Vegas to pitch the investors on Shark Tank on backing their dream of making a living selling mini pizza pies in cupcake form.
Inspired by the personal-sized pizzettas that Meggiato grew up eating during his childhood in Venice and crafted using ingredients imported from Italy, the Pizza Cupcake started out as a treat Jimenez and her husband made for birthday and housewarming parties, but it took off as a legitimate business when an upstart photo-sharing site called Instagram became the couple’s first catering client. A few years later, it was off to Sin City to attempt to hook a big fish.
Seeking an investment of $125,000 to expand their unexpected family business in exchange for 5% equity in the Pizza Cupcake from one of the Sharks, Meggiato and Jimenez were able to hook Lori Greiner with one of their handmade snacks and left Vegas with their desired funding (in exchange for 12.5% equity and 2.5% in advisory shares).
Clocking in at just 160 calories each, Jimenez and Meggiato’s cheesy creations are now available for shipping to more than 30 states and will soon be deliverable nationwide. Unfortunately, the marinara sauce that’s served alongside the savoy snacks at brick-and-mortar locations where the pizza cupcake is available like Citi Field is not. That’s why the couple thought it’d be prudent to share the marinara sauce recipe, which is nearly identical to the one Meggiato’s mother taught him before he was 10, so customers can sauce their cupcakes at home.
“I think the balance of the cheese-to-sauce-to-dough ratio of the Pizza Cupcake right now is great, but I’m a sauce lover,” Jimenez tells InsideHook. “When Andrea makes spaghetti, he’s like, ‘You don’t need that much sauce.’ But I just love it. Maybe it’s an American thing versus an Italian thing. For someone like myself, I need a side of marinara sauce to dip the cupcakes in. We always recommend a side of marinara sauce for sauce lovers.”
Made with ingredients like onions, chili flakes and basil, Meggiato’s marinara also contains garlic — until it doesn’t.
“Michelle was very interested the first time I did it. I put a little garlic into the sauce and then once it boils for about 30 minutes, I remove it completely, which is how my mom taught me when I was very young,” Meggiato says. “A lot of the marinara sauce I’ve tasted in the U.S. has this very strong flavor of garlic. It’s such a strong flavor. I feel it overpowers the overall flavor of the tomatoes, By removing the garlic, you are leaving its essence but you’re not getting chunks of it when you eat it. If you’re using high-quality ingredients, having something like garlic that overpowers those flavors is counterintuitive.”
What’s not counterintuitive? Whipping up some of Meggiato’s authentic marinara sauce and going pizza-dipping.
Andrea Meggiato’s Marinara Sauce
- 1 oz of extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5oz of finely chopped onions
- 2 peeled cloves of garlic, smashed with a knife (not chopped or minced)
- 14oz tomato puree
- 5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 pinch of sugar
- Position the pot on the stove and set the heat to high
- Add olive oil, waiting one minute to bring it to temperature
- Once hot, add onions and garlic, sauteing until the onions start to get a nice golden color
- Add tomato puree, salt, chili flakes and sugar
- Bring the sauce to boil for 20-30 min on medium heat, stirring every 5 minutes for a few seconds
- Add in basil
- Remove garlic from the sauce, stir and turn heat off
- Serve and enjoy
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