No longer an accompaniment to a simple spaghetti dish, meatballs are getting their own moment in the culinary spotlight. I started to notice the curious trend a few months ago, circa fashion week, when I went out for drinks with a friend of mine and he mentioned that he had dinner reservations at Meatball Shop in LES. Then it popped up in a brief mention on my favorite blog, Garance Dore, and finally, Meatball Factory opened up on the corner of 14th and 2nd.
A huge fan of meatballs myself, I had to see what the fuss was about. My mom makes some fantastic meatballs, served as an entree with black beans and rice and a light tomato sauce instead of the Italian marinara, but I was still curious as to how a menu could be crafted solely around them.
So, after walking away from the Hester Street Fair on an empty stomach, I wandered over to Meatball Shop and got my answer. Upon entering the sunlit filled room with hints of hipster Americana decor, I was handed a dry erase menu to select a type of ball, sauce, and topping. Sounds simple enough, but with five different kinds of meat, six sauces and two cheeses, there are so many possible combinations. At the urging of our waiter, I went ahead and got the meatball smash: two balls of spicy pork, mushroom sauce, topped with provolone on a buttery, slightly sweet brioche bun. These are some serious balls (note: there are way too many puns to be made in a place that asks you how you like your balls, naked is an option. Seriously).
The spice of the pork blended seamlessly with the rich, flavorful base of the sauce and the grated provolone melted to add the final, heavenly touch. Sorry, mom, but I have to admit, this is my favorite new meatball dish and probably one of my favorite sandwiches of all time. On top of that, the menu is very respectfully priced, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the servers are helpful. I’d say it’s preeetty baller. Sorry, just couldn’t resist.