My mom was so gracious to take my kids for a sleepover on New Year's Eve. My husband and I went to a little Italian place close to our house called Gabriella's. We were standing there waiting to be seated, and I was freezing since we just came in from outside and it was so cold! I saw their brick oven in the back and told my husband that if he gave me a dollar, I would go stick my hands by the fire in the kitchen to warm up. He just chuckled, but the guy next to me said that he'd give me a dollar. Luckily, he got seated so I didn't have to get kicked out of the restaurant before getting to eat. We got seated shortly thereafter, and that same guy came over and put a dollar bill on my menu! I wouldn't keep it from him, but it did make me laugh.
The food at this place is great! I got their vegetable pizza that first time, and it was amazing. This time around, I got the fiesta spaghetti. It's basically a meat sauce loaded with vegetables. It was delicious. The flavor of the sauce was fantastic. I wanted to recreate it at home, and this is my best shot. It was pretty darn close! I loved the extra vegetables and extra meat in the sauce. Also, don't be shy about adding the red pepper flakes! I put it in all my red sauces because it gives it just a little kick. It's so good. At the restaurant, there was also some chicken strips in the sauce, but I just did the pepperoni and hamburger. I noted all my modifications to the regular recipe. Enjoy! This may be my new favorite pasta sauce. The flavor was outstanding!
Source: Modified from Taste of Home Italian Favorites pg. 68
1 lb. ground beef (90% fat)
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper pepper, diced (not in original recipe)
1/2 c. sliced olives (not in original recipe)
1 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained, pureed (the original recipe just used 2 cans of diced)
1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 c. reduced sodium beef broth
1/4 c. red wine (not in original recipe)
15 pepperonis, halved (not in original recipe)
2 T dried parsley
1 T brown sugar
1 t dried basil
1 t oregano
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes (not in original recipe)
1/4 t fennel seeds (not in original recipe)
In a large skillet, add ground beef, mushrooms, onion, and red pepper. Saute until beef is no longer pink. Drain fat. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for two hours. You can also transfer it to a slow cooker, if you'd like. The longer you simmer, the better the flavor becomes!
Serve over whatever pasta you like. I used thin spaghetti.