Italian Braised Pork Ribs with Pasta.

Italian Braised Pork Ribs with Pasta; Recipe from Emilia-Romagna.

This succulent Italian braised pork ribs with pasta is a classic dish enjoyed throughout Italy. Traditionally it’s served on Sundays and holidays as two courses but it can be made into two meals or eaten as a one plate dish!

Italian braised pork ribs with pasta

Elicoidali pasta con costine di maiale.

Like many nationalities, Italians love to eat grilled pork ribs. However, their favourite way to cook ribs is braised in a rich tomato sauce. In fact, you can find variations of this recipe throughout Italy. Traditionally, like other similar slow-cooked meat pasta recipes, this Italian braised pork ribs is served as 2 courses. 

Italian braised pork ribs with pasta

Cook once eat twice!

I say 2 courses because Italians usually eat pasta as a first course or ‘primo’ on Sundays, holidays and special occasions (sometimes 2 or 3 different pasta dishes!). The pasta is then followed by a main course of meat or fish.

ingredients for Italian braised pork ribs

In Central and Southern Italy in particular, there are many recipes in which cuts of meat are slow cooked in a sauce (usually tomato based). The sauce is then used as a pasta condiment and the meat eaten as the main course. This is actually how most Italians eat meatballs (not the pasta and meatballs together). You can find links to other similar recipes at the end of this post. I often prefer to use this type of dish for 2 meals! I love these cook once eat twice recipes! You can use these recipes on 2 consecutive days or freeze the sauce for another day.

pork ribs rubbed with salt next to chopped onion, carrots, celery and chili pepper

Different versions of Italian braised pork ribs.

This recipe for Italian braised pork ribs with pasta comes from Emilia- Romagna. However, there are very similar recipes in other parts of the country. In Tuscany, they use pork ribs called ‘rosticciana’. These have been grilled first.

pork ribs browning in Dutch oven

In Calabria as well as Campania, you are more likely to find basil, garlic and/or peperoncino in the sauce rather than onions, celery and carrots. I also added peperoncino to satisfy my Sicilian hubby’s love for a bit of spice. But, it’s optional. Some people add pancetta or sausages as well.

chopped onion, carrots, celery, chili pepper in dutch oven with cherry tomatoes and bay leaf

The pasta.

In Emilia-Romagna, the pasta for this braised pork ribs recipe is often garganelli, little pasta tubes made by rolling squares of egg pasta dough around a stick and over a ridged board. You can read more about garganelli if you click this link.

elicoidali pasta Rummo

I used elicoidali, a medium sized pasta tube with spiraling ridges on the outside. Elicoidali are very similar to rigatoni or tortiglioni.  Grooved pasta tubes are great for chunky sauces like this Italian braised pork ribs sauce. The sauce sticks to the grooved surface and even gets inside each piece of pasta!  I bought elicoidali made by Rummo, a company in Campania whose pasta is very good quality and widely available outside of Italy.

pork ribs and other sauce ingredients in Dutch oven

Making this Italian braised pork ribs with pasta.

This recipe takes between 2 and 2.5 hours to make, so not a weeknight option for most of us. However, The sauce actually tastes better made in advance so you can make it the day before or in the morning. 

Italian braised pork ribs

Like the Italians, you can remove most of the ribs and a little sauce from the pot and serve them as a main course or the next day. These braised pork ribs are so delicious with mashed potato and a lot of Italians also eat them with polenta.

Italian braised pork ribs with pasta

Whether you serve these Italian braised pork ribs with pasta or something else, I’m sure you are going to love this dish. The sauce is rich and full of flavour and the meat just falls off the bone. Despite the slightly long cooking time, this is also a pretty easy recipe to make!

Italian braised pork ribs with pasta

If you do try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon appetito!

Other traditional recipes that can be 2 courses or 2 meals.

  1. Orecchiette with braciole (beef rolls) recipe from Puglia
  2. Corzetti pasta with Genovese meat sauce recipe from Liguria
  3. Maltagliati pasta with braised veal and onions recipe from Sicily

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5 from 34 votes
Italian braised pork ribs with pasta
Italian Braised Pork Ribs with Pasta
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 15 mins

This classic Italian Sunday lunch recipe is made with pork ribs cooked in a rich tomato sauce until the meat is succulent and tender. Traditionally, this dish is divided into 2 courses but you can make 2 meals out of it. Cook once eat twice! 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Central Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Italian
Keyword: braised pork ribs, Italian recipe, pasta recipe, pork ragu, pork rib ragu, pork ribs,, Sunday sauce
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 320 g elicoidali pasta tubes (11oz) or rigatoni, tortiglioni, penne etc
  • 800 g pork ribs (28 oz) in or off bone
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 celery stalks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 chili pepper (peperoncino) optional
  • 350 g tomato passata or chopped peeled tomatoes (11oz)
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine (or red if you prefer)
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock if required
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Trim some fat off the ribs and cut them in half. Most of mine didn’t have a hard bone. You can ask your butcher to do this or look for boneless ribs. Rub the ribs with some sea salt.

  2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash and finely chop the celery and carrots. Wash the cherry tomatoes. If using, chop the chili pepper into small pieces. Remove most the seeds so it’s less spicy!

  3. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a deep pan and brown the ribs. Remove and set aside. You may need to do this in batches. 

  4. Add the finely chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. Add more olive oil if necessary. 

  5. Add the bay leaf, chili pepper and cherry tomatoes mix together and cook for a minute. Then add the browned pork ribs. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat so the alcohol evaporates. 

  6. Now pour in the tomato passata/chopped peeled tomatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything together and reduce the heat.

  7. Cook the sauce covered over a lowish heat for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and easy to remove from the bone. Exact cooking time depends on the size of your ribs. Check them after 90 minutes. Add some water or stock if the sauce reduces too much. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes is the sauce is too liquidy.

  8. Put a pot of water onto boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.

  9. When the braised ribs are ready remove them from the sauce. Strip the meat from 3-4 and put back into the sauce. Keep the rest of the ribs with some sauce for another meal or course. You can serve them with potatoes or polenta. 

  10. Alternatively you can strip the meat from all the ribs and eat with the pasta or serve the pasta and sauce with whole ribs! 

  11. When the pasta is ready drain and add to the sauce. Mix together well and serve immediately. If you like, you can add chopped parsley or grated Parmigiano before serving!

Recipe Notes

I prefer the pork ribs to be shorter. If I can only find long ones with a bone, I get the butcher to cut them in half or I buy boneless ribs. But you can keep longer bone-in ribs intact if you prefer.

This recipe can be made with any ridged pasta tube such as rigatoni, penne rigate, tortiglioni, maccheroni etc

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Italian braised pork ribs with pasta

Italian braised pork ribs with pasta

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  • Avatar
    June 6, 2019 12:43 pm

    Well, I think I shouldn’t break the tradition and make this pasta today. But I am certainly keen to get everything ready for the weekend and make these ribs with pasta then – can’t wait!

  • Avatar
    June 6, 2019 12:42 pm

    Finally I’ve stumbled upon a really good pork pasta. It’s been a while since I search for one, so I am happy it is time to cook!

  • Avatar
    June 4, 2019 11:15 am

    The sauce cooked over slow heat and for so long would add so much flavour to the dish. This pasta and the braised pork ribs sounds absolutely delicious.

  • Avatar
    EA The Spicy RD
    June 3, 2019 2:50 am

    Yum! And, what a comforting dish. This pasta looks amazing-perfect for a family dinner!

  • Avatar
    June 3, 2019 12:29 am

    Absolutely delicious pasta dish! I love pork and I cannot wait to make this deliciousness. I have some pork ribs and I now know what I will be making. Thak you so much for the inspiration !

  • Avatar
    Leanne | Crumb Top Baking
    June 1, 2019 1:44 am

    My hubby loves ribs and he loves pasta, so I’m not sure why I haven’t combined the two before! This recipe is totally inspiring me to do that!

  • Avatar
    May 31, 2019 9:09 pm

    I love everything about your recipe. I’ve had something similar to this in Campania while in Italy. The melt in your mouth texture and delicious flavor of the meat is soooo good with pasta. I can’t wait to try your version. Italians are the best cooks.

  • Avatar
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    May 31, 2019 2:28 pm

    Love it when the meat falls off the bones!! I have only ever cooked chicken and ground beef (can you believe it????) so I definitely need to diversify my meat portfolio 🙂 This looks doable for me!

  • Avatar
    Jenni LeBaron
    May 30, 2019 9:41 pm

    I can’t decide if I’m more excited about those perfectly cooked pork ribs or the savory tomato sauce. I am a huge pasta fan, so this looks like a delicious hug in a bowl to me!

  • Avatar
    May 30, 2019 8:39 pm

    You had me at cook once eat twice! I not only love the simplicity of this recipe and all the fresh ingredients, I love the explanation of the Italian culture and how they eat meals. Thank you for sharing and I this is something I will be cooking for a Sunday meal very soon.

  • Avatar
    May 30, 2019 3:10 am

    Cook once eat twice sounds good to me, especially when it comes to these delicious braised pork ribs! I love a good ribs recipe, so this is perfect for me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:24 am

      Happy you like this recipe Amanada! I love the cook once eat twice concept and this is the perfect dish for that!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    May 29, 2019 7:09 pm

    I love cook once eat twice recipes! And this one looks soo good. I rarely cook with pork, but I have absolutely no good reason. I’ll start with this!

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:26 am

      I’m sure you’ll love this braised pork ribs recipe and the fact that you can turn it into two dishes or meals makes it a real winner. Pork, not just ribs, is popular in Italy and often added to sauces for extra flavour.

  • Avatar
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt
    May 29, 2019 4:10 pm

    I bet the short ribs add so much flavor to this! You can never go wrong with a tasty pasta dish.

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:27 am

      Yes Julie! It’s the ribs that real give this sauce a rich hearty flavour! Plus you can make this into two courses or meals.

  • Avatar
    Brian Jones
    May 29, 2019 8:40 am

    What a lovely sounding recipe, I love ribs and this is a relatively new way of cooking them to me, definitely giving them a try.

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:28 am

      Thanks for your comment Brian! I’m sure you’ll love this way of cooking pork ribs. The sauce is so flavourful and the meat just falls off the rib bones!

  • Avatar
    Beth Neels
    May 28, 2019 9:49 pm

    These ribs look so succulent and delicious! We love slow cooked pork in my house, so I can’t wait to try these! I love the fresh tomato sauce too! Yummy!

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:32 am

      Thanks Beth! This is definitely a recipe to try. The ribs really add to the flavour of the pasta sauce and are so delicious as well.

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 8:13 pm

    Is there any better comfort food than a bowl of pasta? Not for this Italian girl! I love the addition of a the braised pork ribs. Makes this dish even more hearty and delicious.

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:34 am

      Thanks Vicky! The pork ribs definitely take this pasta sauce up to another level. I would say this is more flavourful than pasta sauce made with ground meat!

  • Avatar
    Michelle Minnaar
    May 28, 2019 7:45 pm

    Pork ribs are my absolute favourite, I used to make them almost every weekend plus I love pasta, great recipe!

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:38 am

      Thanks so much Michelle! I love pork ribs too, both grilled/bbq and braised. But done this way as a 2 in 1 pasta recipe is one of my favourite ways to eat them!

  • Avatar
    Lisa Huff
    May 28, 2019 6:57 pm

    This is my kind of Sunday night family dinner and comfort food!

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:39 am

      Mine too Lisa! Such a great way to feed the family plus you can get two meals or courses out of this recipe!

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 6:55 pm

    This pasta looks absolutely delicious. I love how you talk about the recip 🙂

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:40 am

      Thanks so much Sandi! This is a great traditional way to make Sunday lunch or other big family meal here in Italy!

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 6:51 pm

    Amazing combo! Loved all the flavors and was a hit with my whole family!!

    • Jacqui
      May 30, 2019 8:41 am

      So glad your family enjoyed this dish Noelle! It’s always a hit when I make it!

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 6:43 pm

    Love pasta with tomato sauce, it’s my family’s most loved comfort meal.

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 6:42 pm

    This looks so awesome!! The smell is probably so amazing! I have never cooked ribs like this before but want to!!

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 5:30 pm

    I love pasta so much, it’s the perfect comfortable food. This one looks so delicious.

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 4:48 pm

    This looks like the perfect comfort food! I just love a good ragu!

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 3:00 pm

    I must have been Italian in my previous life as I love tomato based sauces way too much :). The braised ribs look delicious!

  • Avatar
    Courtney | Love & Good Stuff
    May 28, 2019 2:50 pm

    I love slow cooked dishes like this! So flavourful! Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    May 28, 2019 2:26 pm

    This is a new favorite at our house! Such a great dinner any night of the week!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    May 28, 2019 1:21 pm

    I’ve never braised pork ribs in a tomato sauce but it sounds delicious especially with perfectly cooked pasta.

  • Avatar
    Danielle Wolter
    May 28, 2019 12:34 pm

    this sounds just incredible! I just love braised pork ribs, and that sauce sounds perfect for them. Great recipe!

  • Avatar
    Jacqueline Meldrum
    May 22, 2019 5:36 pm

    I love a good homemade pasta dish and they are always popular with my family,

  • Avatar
    sue | the view from great island
    May 22, 2019 4:55 pm

    I love this post! The idea of cooking once for 2 meals is genius, and I can imagine the smell this amazing sauce bubbling away on the stove now…

  • Avatar
    Jessica Formicola
    May 22, 2019 4:55 pm

    I made this for dinner last night and it was so incredible! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Avatar
    Sharon Chen
    May 22, 2019 4:53 pm

    What a perfect combination and looks best served with the fam 🙂 yum!

  • Avatar
    Caitlyn Erhardt
    May 22, 2019 4:49 pm

    Wow this pasta looks so hearty and delicious!

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