Monday, February 13, 2012

Mama Mia, That's a Spicy Meatball: Part 1

I recently had dinner with fellow blogger Dana of Food For Thought, and at her suggestion we decided to try the Meatball Shop in New York City. Its three locations offer daily specials for everything from balls, sauce, and salad, to cookies, ice cream, and homemade lemonade.

Meat grinder wall art

You also get to enjoy your balls however you'd like, "naked," which means served alone with just sauce, with sides either on the side or underneath, as sliders, a hero, a smash sandwich (smushed between a brioche bun), or on a salad. You get a laminated menu and a marker to check off your selections. I love the whole do-it-yourself / any-way-you-want-it style of the menu here. It really helps you think outside of the box as well, since normally I would eat my meatballs either with pasta or as a sandwich, but there are really so many alternatives that don't involve starch if you choose to go that route.

Starting off, I couldn't resist the lemonade of the day, which was apple cinnamon. It tasted like the lemonade was splashed with apple cider, such a great idea that I'll have to steal one of these days. I think every restaurant should offer fresh, homemade lemonades in fun and flavorful varieties. Just a thought.

Apple-Cinnamon Lemonade $3

I decided to go for naked classic beef balls served with the special sauce of the day, which was a Spanish-style tomato sauce with Picada-toasted almonds, Anaheim chiles and honey. It had a lot of flavor! The meatballs were lusciously tender, a result of the ricotta cheese used in making them. The meatballs were everything I expected them to be from a place that makes its name for making MEATBALLS. If they failed at that I'd be worried :)

Prosciutto and Chive Risotto $4, Naked Beef Balls with Spanish Tomato Sauce $7

I ordered a side of risotto. The special flavor that day was prosciutto and chive. I'm not gonna lie. They made it perfectly. It had a great al dente bite, delicious bites of chewy prosciutto throughout. I was a very happy girl with these plates of food in front of me.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Salad with Veggie Balls and Classic Tomato Sauce $9

Dana got the veggie balls with classic tomato sauce atop the Everything But the Kitchen Sink Salad, which is a bright and fresh display of many many veggies, and a chickpea salad. The components of this salad can change depending on what's fresh, but this day her plate includes cucumbers, beets, and broccoli among others. I have to say, the veggie balls themselves are pretty mind-blowing. As a serious meat-lover, I wouldn't normally consider ordering this option, but the hype behind them is warranted because they are really so damn good! They crumble a bit more easily than an actual meatball, but the flavor is the bee's knees. Hearty lentils are the backbone here, and they sure make a great vegetarian option!

We absolutely had to have dessert as a finish to our meal. The only options they have are homemade ice cream sandwiches and ice cream floats. Who needs other options when you've got ones as good as these? For the ice cream sandwiches, you get to pick your cookie flavor or flavors (you can easily get 2 different flavors as we did) and an ice cream flavor and they will make it fresh just for you. They were even nice enough to cut ours in half for convenient sharing. We got a peanut butter cookie and a chocolate chip cookie (both were flawless) paired with some of the best chocolate ice cream I've ever had. Legit. Best. Such rich chocolate flavor. Would eat this over and over again (which could lead to a serious weight problem...).

Ice Cream Sandwich with Peanut Butter Cookie, Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Chocolate Ice Cream $5

Perhaps the greatest treat of all, was the price tag of our meal. All this amazing food cost the two of us just over 30 bucks with tax and tip! And that includes our drinks (non-alcoholic) and dessert. I returned a couple weeks later for lunch and elected to try some of the sliders. You can match up each ball with whatever sauce you'd like, so it gives you a great opportunity to try many flavor combinations. I tried the chicken meatball with Parmesan cream sauce (their take on chicken Parmesan: really juicy and the cheese sauce was the perfect touch), the veggie ball with pesto sauce (the really bright flavors in the pesto were a great addition to the heartiness of the veggie ball), and that day's special ball and sauce... the Buffalo chicken ball with Frank's red hot and blue cheese dressing (also super juicy with just a bit of heat without being overly spicy... a really fun meatball selection).

Meatball Sliders (left to right): Chicken Meatball with Parmesan Cream Sauce, Veggie Ball with Pesto, Buffalo Chicken Meatball with Frank's Red Hot and Blue Cheese Dressing $3 each

I couldn't resist another ice cream sandwich either, although I really wish I had someone to share with because those sliders were surprisingly filling! This time I got 2 brownie cookies (studded with walnuts) filled with a very mild but tasty mint ice cream. A pretty winning combination, but I preferred our original selection more.

Ice Cream Sandwich with Brownie Cookies and Mint Ice Cream $5

Keep in mind that they don't take reservations, and they definitely get packed during peak hours (and even late-night hours) so expect to wait. If you don't live in New York, or absolutely positively refuse to wait for your balls, you can buy their cookbook, which I will be reviewing in my next post! Stay tuned, I'll be sharing a highly coveted recipe as well!

The Meatball Shop
Lower East Side Location
84 Stanton St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 982-8895

West Village Location
64 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 982-7815

Williamsburg Location
170 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 551-0520


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