A Pasta Bolognese Recipe from ACRE Kitchen and Bar

Photo: Ron Lach


When Chef Dirk Tolsma of ACRE Kitchen and Bar offered up this recipe for our Valentine’s Day newsletter, he said he couldn’t stop thinking of the two dogs slurping the same strand of spaghetti in Lady and the Tramp. Now you, too, will be thinking of those adorable dogs as you try out Chef Dirk’s recipe for Pasta Bolognese.

If a night out is more what you have in mind for February 14, come by ACRE, which is located at 5655 College Ave, Oakland.

“We have live music from local musician Nick Rossi and a special steakhouse-inspired menu. It’s part of our usual Wednesday Neighborhood Night series when we always have a local musician playing and a little themed 3-course menu available alongside our usual a la carte menu,”  says Chef Dirk.


Serves 6–8

  • Grape-seed oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 pounds short rib or brisket, small diced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 bunch thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 (8-ounce) cans of peeled tomatoes, preferable San Marzano
  • 1 quart beef stock or brown chicken stock (homemade or Market Hall’s homemade is worth the splurge)
  • 1/2 bottle red wine (The other half is to drink while you cook, it helps, I swear.)
  • 1–2 pounds of your favorite pasta (try spaghetti if you want to practice the spaghetti kiss, but I like rigatoni or pappardelle)
  • Parmigiano-Romano for grating
  • Your best extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  1. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add enough grape-seed oil to cover the bottom by about ¼ inch. Add the meat and sear deeply on all sides. Go slowly so it gets rich and brown (not black and charred). Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, blot off excess oil, and place in a casserole dish.
  2. Drain off most of the oil from the pan. Add chopped onions and garlic and sauté until they are starting to brown. Add paprika and red pepper flakes and sauté a few minutes more to bloom the spices.
  3. Using cooking twine, tie the herbs and bay leaf into a bundle and add to the sauté pan. Sauté the bouquet in order to release its aroma.
  4. Add the tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon. After the tomato juices come to a boil, add the wine and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes to burn off the alcohol and marry the flavors. Season to nearly finished levels with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the tomato mixture to the casserole dish with the seared beef. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and place in a 350°F oven to cook for 1 ½ hours. Remove foil and cook about 45 minutes more or until beef is completely tender and sauce is reduced.
  6. Allow to cool slightly, then remove beef, shred it, and roughly chop with a cleaver or heavy knife. Fold beef back into tomato mixture to make your Bolognese sauce.
  7. Boil your favorite pasta according to package directions, drain, and gently fold it together in a large bowl with some of the Bolognese sauce. Plate each serving, pour a ladle full of sauce over each, and serve with grated Parmigiano-Romano and extra virgin olive oil at the table for garnish.
  8. Mangia!