“Goodfellas” Garlic! Paulie’s Famous Meatball Recipe! Dig Into Dinner And A Movie – Mobster Style!

A Celebration Of “Goodfellas” – And That “Goodfellas Thin” Garlic Sauce Recipe!

If you know how to slice garlic “really really thin”, it may be due to this incredible film!

First, it is a real definition:

“Goodfellas Thin”: The unofficial measurement of a slice of garlic cut extremely thin using a razor blade.

A great film pays attention to detail – and Director Martin Scorsese did just that when he shot the famous cooking scene that involved very precise knife skills in his 1990 classic about mob life in the 70’s and 89’s in New York.

Here’s how the film came together:

In 1990, Scorsese teamed up with Robert DeNiro to tell the true story of Henry Hill, the young kid who worked his way up through the mob hierarchy, only to see it all fall apart.

According to IMDB:

“Martin Scorsese first got wind of Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy” when he was handed the galley proofs. Although Scorsese had sworn off making another gangster movie, he immediately cold-called the writer and told him, “I’ve been waiting for this book my entire life.” To which Pileggi replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call my entire life.”

Ray Liotta is brilliant as the real life Henry Hill, who learns how to be a mobster from Robert DeNiro – who plays James Conway, the guy who helps Hill get into the mob, only to betray him in an effort to save himself. Paul Sorvino plays a mob boss, and Joe Pesci is an out-of-control mobster who can’t be controlled.

Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of psycho gangster Tommy DeVito – with the infamous “But I’m Funny HOW?” scene – when Henry tries to compliment him, Pesci’s character erupts:

“You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

One of the greatest scenes, and scorsese kept it out of the script so that the other characters in the scene wouldn’t know what was going on!

Better still, Scorsese’s Mom is in the film as well!

Scorsese’s Mom Cooked For Them!

Scorsese’s mother, Catherine Scorsese, plays Tommy’s mother. She and the cast ad-libbed the dinner scene they filmed together. Later in the movie, Scorsese’s father Charles Scorsese plays the prisoner who puts too many onions in the tomato sauce…it is that prison scene that introduced America to the “Goodfellas thin” slicing of the garlic!

The term “Goodfellas thin” is a reference to the famous scene in which lead character Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) describes in detail how mob boss Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino) prepared dinner while in prison:

“In prison, dinner was always a big thing. We had a pasta course, then we had a meat or a fish. Paulie was doing a year for contempt and had a wonderful system for garlic. He used a razor and sliced it so thin it would liquefy in the pan with a little oil. It’s a very good system.”

Here is the scene:

How can you not love that? Of course, you need to buy the entire movie to watch right now, because it is one of Scorsese’s masterpieces…and while you are watching, why not enjoy this incredible meatball dish as well?

Goodfella’s Meatballs With Thinly-Shaved Garlic!

Here is the three-meat meatball (just like Goodfellas “Veal, beef and pork… you gotta have the pork.”) recipe to try at home:

First, slice the garlic “Goodfellas thin!”

goodfellas garlic

Meatballs a la Goodfellas

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, sliced razor thin then minced
2 eggs
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 cups stale Italian bread, crumbled
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup olive oil

catherine scorsese cooking

Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add the water 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold it’s shape if rolled into meatballs. (I usually use about 1 1/4 cups of water). Shape into meatballs.

goodfellas gravy

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. (If your mixture is too wet, cover the meatballs while they are cooking so that they hold their shape better.)

Place cooked meatballs into Marinara Sauce and cook for 15 more minutes.

Dig In!

There you have it, Meatballs ala Goodfellas….the best “dinner in a movie” you will ever have!

Categories: Academy Awards, Action Films, Art, Books / Media, cookbooks, Cult Movies, Director Martin Scorsese, Film Fight Club, Food, food blog, Food Review, Great Films, Hollywood, Memoirs, Movies, Recipes, Restaurants, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized, Wacky Food

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18 replies

  1. I love meatballs! What a great way to enjoy a good Italian movie, with classic Italian dish. That scene with Joe was so intense, I remember finding it hard to watch because I liked his character so I didn’t want to think of him being so crazy!

  2. This is amazing. Can’t wait to share this with my husband; we’ll send the kids to the grandparents’ house, cook some meatballs and watch Goodfellas

  3. This is a great series you’re doing! Movies and recipes are great. Definitely gonna try this one out 🙂

    • Thanks! I have several more to come – a few I did years ago that I will update, and some new ones as well…this is a great one because the food is amazing and so is the film – thanks for the comment!

  4. A great film, John, and one I have seen. The recipe looks delicious too.

  5. I only watched goodfellas for the first time last year for the 25th anniversairy in the cinema. I was suprised how much I liked it, it is such a great film! These meatballs look so good, sounds like a brilliant dinner and a movie night.

  6. Such a brilliant film …. nothing to add except meatballs and a decent bottle of Amerone … alla tua!

  7. One of the best films ever, and high on my favourites list. The detail is amazing, the narration perfect, and the sense of period is maintained throughout. This one, and ‘Casino’, are my top Scorsese films.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  1. A “Big Night” Dinner And A Movie! A Slice Of Pasta Pie! Stanley Tucci And Tony Shaloub’s Timpano Recipe! – johnrieber
  2. Ratatouille! “Dinner And A Movie” With Chef Thomas Keller’s Legendary Byaldi! – johnrieber

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