Meatball Madness July 25, 2010
Never in a million years would I say “meatballs.”
I wouldn’t turn a meatball away if it were in front of me, but I certainly wouldn’t seek them out. Usually they’re dry, covered in red sauce, over spaghetti or as a hero. It’s just not my thing.
But when discussing what to do on a Saturday night with my friend Gail, and she suggests The Meatball Shop, and I’m thinking,– it’s Saturday night Gail! I want wine, fun atmosphere, good conversation and yummy food. The Meatball Shop doesn’t sound like it would give me that experience. Before I responded out loud, Gail says, “look it up online right now, you’ll see what I’m talking about.”
Whoa! How did I not know about this sooner? Seems that The Meatball Shop is quite the craze on the Lower East Side, and patrons wait outside 1.5 hrs for a table in this tiny cramped space. Great reviews all around. They must be magical meatballs. LETS GO!
After an hour and 50-minute wait, and two lovely Pimm’s Cups from Schiller’s Liquor Bar, we were seated at the end of a long communal table. It’s a charming little space with subway tiles, bare brick, recycled wood, vintage New York photos, and an open kitchen.
1) Choose your meatball: classic beef, spicy pork, chicken, vegetable or special ball of the day
2) Choose your sauce: classic tomato, spicy meat, mushroom gravy or Parmesan cream
3) Choose your container, or lack there of: individual meatball slider, on a baguette, on a brioche bun, in a bowl with a piece of focaccia on the side, or on top of any of the sides that interest you.
4) If you go with a sandwich, choose your cheese: mozzarella or provolone
What a brilliant idea! We were all loving this little game of pick and choose exactly what you want. The sides ranged from polenta, Tuscan white beans and risotto to a wide variety of veggies (which made my table very happy). We loved their simple salad of arugula and apples. It was light and refreshing, paired beautifully with their meatballs, which by the way, are all locally sourced and high quality. (See list of sources below)
I ordered a dish called “Everything but the Kitchen Sink.”
Sounds gluttonous, right? Au contraire!
There are three meatballs with a light layer of sauce, on top of the chef’s selection of healthy market vegetables. I had the chicken balls that were so juicy and flavorful that they could have been pork and I wouldn’t have known the difference. I chose the mushroom gravy that’s prepared with chicken stock, white wine, herbs, and a little butter. All of that goodness on top of roasted beets, sautéed broccoli, steamed spinach, and the simple salad… all for a whopping $8.00!!!!
Yup! Is this a deal or what?
Gail loved her vegetarian meatball hero with spicy meat sauce and provolone. To me, it tasted like a really good eggplant Parmesan hero. My other friend, Beth, had the Kitchen Sink with vegetarian balls and red sauce. As the casting director for “Chopped”, I’ve witnessed Beth’s eating-out-expectations increase over the years. However, she cleaned the sink and said repeatedly in a surprised tone, “I’m REALLY loving this!”
Add on a few glasses of wine and perhaps the table shares a starchy side or two, and the bill is just $25 bucks each. Unheard of for a delicious sit-down dinner in NYC. And to top it all off, they make homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert. We were all too stuffed to try them, but they look phenomenal, and apparently the salted caramel ice cream is up to par with Otto’s.
The only drawback is the loud and cramped space. The blaring classic rock only intensified the bustling energy. But considering the great price, and great food, this is still a gem. I would not come here with parents or on dates one through four, it’s a little hard to have a conversation. But with a plate of juicy meatballs in front of you… who really cares about talking anyway?
Meatball servings range from one slider for $3, four on a plate for $7, three in a hero for $9, and side dishes are up to $4 each.The Meatball Shop’s Locally Sourced Ingredients: Beef: Creekstone Farm Poultry: Bell and Evans Pork: Heritage Foods Eggs: Feather Ridge Farms Dairy: Seven Stars Farm Proscuitto: La Quercia Mozzarella: Calabro Produce: J. Glebocki Farm / Sheldon Farms
The Meatball Shop 84 Stanton Street at Allen Street