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Making Perfect Meatballs With The MOBB: Culinary Maestro Turned Inmate Turned Author Reveals His Secrets

May 24, 2024

From owning acclaimed eateries to forging unexpected alliances in a federal detention center, Frankie “Spice” Morelli has made his mark as a culinary maestro who respects the power of authentic Italian food. Now, in his publishing debut, Morelli creates and compiles delicious recipes, healthful nutrition and decades of experience into MOBB Cookbook & Diet: Savor and Slim the Italian Way.

Frankie "Spice" Morelli, Dr. Sandra Frank, Ed.D, RDN, FAND, and James "The Raptor" John are an unlikely team who brought The MOBB Cookbook & Diet to life. Frankie and James–the founding fathers of Our MOBB–met while doing time in federal prison. This may not sound like the start of an inspiring, positive story, but this was the perfect environment for these two to meet to share goals and philosophies.

It was here that Frankie and James realized that they could beat the allure of "The Mob" by creating a new life with their MOBB (Mercy and Optimism Beyond Borders), expanding interaction and loyalty outside of organized crime to build trust, self-fulfillment, and success with individuals around the world who are looking for a place to belong. When they paired their experiences with the credentials and background of Dr. Sandra Frank, their MOBB grew with another significant leader.

The "MOBB Cookbook & Diet" book is a pizza box-sized, full-color coffee table cookbook blending 70-plus recipes, along with nearly 200 original full-color photos and tantalizing mob lore with a vital ingredient: a priority on health. Teaming up with Dr. Sandra “Diet Duchess” Frank, Ed.D., RDN, FAND, who nutritionally vetted the recipes in the book, Morelli guarantees that every dish in this book can be enjoyed as part of a well-balanced, nourishing diet.

Whether cooking on-camera, providing b-roll footage for the perfect virtual demo, or just chatting with the host, producer or editor, Frankie can share his five secrets for making the BEST Spaghetti and Meatballs ... this side of The Clink:

1. Undercook your pasta because even when you take it out of boiling water it is still cooking!

2. To prepare the sauce, sauté Fresh Garlic in Oil, deglaze with White Wine … and mix in Salt and Black Pepper.

3. To make the sauce, use only San Marzano Tomatoes—they are imported from Italy and are naturally sweet without an acidic taste. With a stick or a home blender, pureé the Tomatoes and combine with the Sautéed Garlic Mixture. Do not add Sugar! Simmer it all on “low” for 4 hours.

4. Make the Meatballs as big as a softball … the smaller you make the balls, the harder they become when you cook ‘em. Use 80/20 Ground Beef/Ground Pork, Parmesan Cheese, Breadcrumbs, Parsley, Eggs, Cream, Salt and Pepper, and Olive Oil. Says Frankie, “The better the meatball, the more protection I had in The Joint!” Put the balls into the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees … take ‘em out, flip them and cook for the same amount of time … and that’s it.

5. Simplicity is the essence of Italian cooking!

MOBB Cookbook & Diet includes an array of recipes, like Don Pasquale’s Shrimp Scampi, Lucky Luciano’s Luscious Lady Fingers and even Lou “The Hebrew Hammer’s” favorite Matzo Ball Soup. It’s filled with “fun” facts about notorious and alleged mobsters, including “Tommy Guns,” Jimmy “The Beast,” Jeremy “The Jett” and other members of the author’s diverse circle of acquaintances from the Sicilian Mob, Italian Cosa Nostra and the wide multicultural world of gangsters.

Meet The MOBB
Frankie "Spice" Morelli
As a way to make use of his time behind bars, Frankie had been hand-writing an Italian cookbook and enlisting the help of other inmates to type it up during their library time.

Frank lost around 100 lbs during his incarceration, and the principles he was implementing in his cookbook supported that weight loss, helped him develop healthier coping mechanisms, and allowed him to gain some control over the severe depression that had settled in when he entered a rough, long-term prison situation without ever having been incarcerated before.

As the Frank Sinatra song, "That’s Life," illustrates, Frankie had been knocked down and had to pick himself back up several times. This resilience is a fitting trait, as four generations of Frankie’s family have dealt with both alleged and convicted ‘Mafia’ members for over a century. This connection with generations of his family would help him gather time-tested recipes to build his cookbook.

Enter James "The Raptor"
James crossed paths with Frankie while working together in the prison kitchen. When Frankie shared the details of his cookbook project, James was eager to help.

As another person looking to make more of his life and use his time to help people, James was quickly drawn to Frankie's mission. They began working together to create a brand that is about self-help, self-love, and making life changes for the better. James' motto is that, in changing your life, you must give to get, so he got to work.

Dr. Sandra Frank
They enlisted the help of Dr. Sandra Frank, who has over 40 years of experience in Nutrition and Dietetics and is a highly accomplished Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She accumulated those credentials after struggling to find a healthy, sustainable balance in her body weight. Sandra's journey and unwavering commitment to maintaining weight control have not only transformed her own life but have also inspired her to delve deeper into the science and psychology behind successful weight management.

How He Became Frankie "Spice"
Frankie "Spice" Morelli is a resilient culinary maestro and entrepreneur with an innate understanding of delicious and nourishing, authentic yet innovative Italian food. He owned and operated the Award-Winning Morelli’s Ristorante Italiano in Florence, Colorado, and founded Nona Morelli Pasta, an international pasta and sauce company that supplied prominent retail chains, engaged in private-label partnerships with respected brands like: Kraft Foods’ Budget Gourmet, and pioneered the introduction of microwave pasta. After divesting the restaurant in 1990 and selling the company in 1992, he applied his business savvy to taking companies public through reverse mergers.

Check out one of their recipes in action: and for more information, please visit:

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