Bistecca al Diavolo

Grilled Steak with a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

Bistecca al diavolo is southern Italian in inspiration. We usually serve the al diavolo sauce with steak, as in this recipe, but it works equally well with pork spareribs or grilled sausage. We have also served the sauce without the pancetta on meaty fish such as grilled swordfish or tuna. You may make it as devilishly hot as you like.

This and the following three beef recipes are variations on the theme of a piquant tomato sauce with onion and spices. Although the basic ingredients are similar, the resultant flavor of each dish is quite different.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced (¼ inch) pancetta
  • 5 red onions, sliced about inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon (or to taste) dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
  • 3 cups Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Beef Stock
  • ¾ cup dry red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 6 rib-eye steaks, about ½ pound each


Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until partially rendered, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and pepper flakes and cook until nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, stock, and wine. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer until the flavors blend, 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too acidic, add the sugar.

Heat the grill or broiler. Brush the steaks with the remaining oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill or broil about 3 minutes each side for medium-rare, or 4 minutes each side for medium. Spoon the sauce over and serve with polenta or mashed potatoes.