My dad, besides being my original and still favorite lunch date, is the funniest person I know. I have never known anyone who can tell a raunchy, politically incorrect joke like him. He does it with utter charm and…dare i say…sophistication? Naah, it isn’t that. It’s really just that he has a great sense of humor! He makes me laugh until milk comes out my nose. Because yes, I am just that appropriate in public. So when he was in town for the day, you can be SURE that i grabbed that opportunity to have lunch with him. And he wanted to go The Meatball Shop.
Um-making politically incorrect jokes while eating a meat filled lunch that someone else (who you love!) pays for? Could anyone HAVE a more delightful experience?
I don’t think so.
The Meatball Shop is small but well laid out. There is a first come first serve bar area and tables that you wait for by putting your name in at the hostess stand. The space is casual, with an open air kitchen at the back and large glass doors that open up on sunny days.
And the smell coming out of the kitchen…DIVINE! Like your sweet Strega Nona is back there cooking up her specialties. Just be prepared to wait about 20 minutes for a table if you come between noon and 2 pm.
Sooner then later, though, we were seated and started to make our menu selections
The menus are laminated and come with dry erase markers, so you check off what kind of balls you want, and how you want them, and with what sides. We made our choices, as you can see:
You can order your meatballs on a variety of sandwiches with a variety of toppings, or on pasta, risotto, ro potatoes, with a whole bunch of veggie sides…it was hard to narrow down the choices! But in between discussing Curb Your Enthusiasm and playing with the ifart application on his phone, we placed our order and very shortly, the food arrived:
From the top, going clockwise, you have the beef ball with marinara sauce, the spicy pork with spicy meat sauce, the daily special with mushroom sauce, and the chicken with pesto wraps up the quorum.
I LOVE THESE BALLS (That’s what she said)
Let’s break it down:
Beef ball-my least favorite, just because it was so basic. A well made, airy meatball that was squishy and traditional tasting. It was covered with a sweet and tomatoey marinara sauce. Not innovative, but a classic well done and much enjoyed.
Spicy Pork Ball-WHOA NELLIE!!! This little ball of goodness was DIVINE! garlicky, hot, sweetly pork-a-licious…with the mildly spicy meat sauce, this was a dream!
Daily Ball-A bolognese ball made with beef and mortadella, this was FAB! It was filled with basil and oregano, and the fatty, garlicky characteristics of the mortadella really pumped up the natural hearty flavor of the beef. With the unusual vegetable and stock based mushroom sauce, chock full of meaty shrooms, this was an umami bomb and a taste sensation!
Chicken Ball-What a shocker! I loved this ball! Light, juicy, and well seasoned, this was the chicken all other chicken dishes DREAM of being! The pesto was the best i have had in recent memory- just fresh and fragrant basil, pungent garlic, buttery pine nuts and salty parmasean cheese. It brought the sweet and juicy ball to a whole ‘nother level!
We LOVED these balls on their soft buttery brioche buns. I’m telling you, the key to these little meaty bundles of love was the TEXTURE-they squished pleasantly so you could eat them, but were packed tightly enough so they did not fall apart. How did they do that? More eggs than I use maybe? Different breadcrumbs? I don’t know, but I am telling you, the texture with all those fresh and fantastic flavors was dynamite! I loved the spicy pork, my dad loved the special bolognese, and not a crumb of bread remained by the time we were done!
We also got a side of the daily greens, which was a chilled green bean salad with mint and a whole grain mustard vinaigrette. These were simple but so delightful! Clearly fresh, al dente green beans served room temperature with that bracing mint and tart mustard dressing. The whole grains provided great textural contrast, and the mustard totally brought out the vegetal sweetness of the beans. These were a great side order since our other side order was:
Rigatoni. In sweet, tart, tomatoey sauce. Cooked al dente. Positively BATHING in aged parmigiano reggiano. The hot sauce coating each and every noodle, getting into the tiny ridges and through the hollow tubes. The gentle taste of sautéed onions mingling with the nutty cheese and sweet sauce. Need I even SAY we totally polished this off?
The whole meal, with 2 sodas, was under $30. It was a STEAL considering the portions and the quality of ingredients. Delicious, inventive, and cheap…isn’t that the trifecta of an awesome date?
Oh, and you should have a really fun, kind, and hilarious dining partner. That definitely makes the dining experience that much better! So go get some balls with your dad today! Yep…I just said that…