Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The year of the meatball

I'm adding The Meatball Shop in New York to my to do list and here's why: the build your own meatball dinner. I happen to love all meatballs regardless of size and ethnic origin, so a place that stars different flavors of meatballs partnered with my choice of sauce and carb is not just a restaurant, it's a place of worship.

I have no meatball heritage. Unlike my Italian friends, I didn't have a Nonna with a secret recipe; I had Chef Boyardee Spaghetti-O's and meatballs, the word "meat" here a loose interpretation of its usual meaning, that which comes from a farm animal. Despite this, I have an undeniable emotional attachment, Nonna or no.

The Meatball Shop is a cool little nook on the lower east side. And even though the menu is "build your own," the food looks to be a caliber above that. There are meat options (beef, spicy pork, chicken, and a weekly special, which on one occasion included chopped liver and matzoh meal - the Passover version), a variety of gravies, and a handful of interesting carborific sides. The thin slice of bubbly focaccia is a nice, nice touch.

Conventional wisdom might tell you to choose the beef meatballs with classic tomato sauce and rigatoni, but I would find it especially difficult to turn my back on chicken meatballs with parmesan cream and mashed potatoes, especially at 2 AM, after a night of carousing. The laundry list of green vegetables, from the daily roasted offering to the daily greens, might just assuage my guilt over the parmesan cream. Then again, it might not.

A few of the sides at The Meatball Shop.

If a big plate of meat and carbs doesn't do it for you, they also have sliders (a single meatball of your choice on a cute bun), a hero on a baguette (pork with mushroom sauce and provolone sounds good right about now), or a meatball smash, which is a gimmicky name for a two meatball sub on a brioche bun.

A meatball hero. Love the greens.

Everything from cupcakes to burgers to pizza have had their 15 minutes. Isn't it time we elevate the meatball? I'm thinking a week-long feature on Good Morning America, and a White House photo op where Obama has the prudent chicken meatballs with the sauce on the side and an arugula salad, while Joe Biden proves once again he'll take one for his country by ordering spicy pork meatballs with buttery mashed potatoes and an extra large ladle of spicy meat sauce. Oh, and the bromo? Make that to go.

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