Sugo Finto

False Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    6½ cups

Appears in

This tomato sauce, called by the Romans sugo finto or “false sauce,” gets its name because it is enriched with chopped vegetables and cooked longer than the first sauce. It is thick and rich and resembles a meat-based sauce, or sugo. Sugo finto may be passed through a food mill for a more uniform texture. Non-Jewish Romans use lard instead of olive oil for making it, and some add meat juices after cooking. In the Italian Jewish kitchen, the sauce may be enriched by meat juices, but then the sauce may only be used at a meat-based meal.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) plum tomatoes, with their juices


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic (if using), parsley, basil, salt, and pepper and sauté until the battuto is pale gold, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Then add the tomatoes with their juices, stir well, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently, uncovered, until thickened, about 1 hour.

Pass the sauce through a food mill if you want a smoother texture. This sauce will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.