Ragu comes from ragoûter, a French word that means “to stimulate the taste” or “to revive the appetite”. The dish is related in etymology to a French dish called ragoût, which is actually a meat and vegetable stew. Even though it is not known exactly when ragu was invented, food experts estimate that it was first eaten as a sauce in the 18th century in Bologna.  In 1982, the ragu traditional recipe was registered by a Bolognese delegation. According to the delegation, the official ragu recipe contains onions, beef, carrots, tomato paste, milk, celery, and wine. On January 17, 2010, in honor of ragù alla bolognese (also called Bolognese sauce), Italian restaurants served a variety of ragu dishes including spaghetti alla Bolognese.

Ragu is an Italian sauce that is meat-based and is usually eaten with pasta. Although tagliatelle pasta and lasagna are included in traditional ragu recipes, there are many different meats and pasta (such as spaghetti) that can be eaten with ragu sauce. Lamb, chicken, pork, and duck are delicious when topped with ragu. Mushrooms, prosciutto, and mortadella sausages are also great additions to this sauce. One variety of ragu is called ragù alla napoletana (also known as Neapolitan ragu). It is made out of vegetables, tomato sauce, and meat. The major difference between this type of ragu and Bolognese ragu is that Neapolitan ragu is made out of whole meat while the ragu from Bologna uses chopped meat. Ragu from Naples also contains more onion. Ragu is loved not only in Italy, but in many other European nations and is eaten throughout the whole world.