The Meatball Shop proved a New York phenomenon with it’s first shop opening in the Lower East Side just about three years ago. The store has expanded to Brooklyn, West Village and soon to be invading Chelsea. If only you had thought of this superb check list-style menu idea using dry erase pens: just offer 5 different kinds of meatballs (classic beef, spicy pork, chicken, vegetable, special of the day), give customers choice of sauce (spicy meat sauce, pesto, parm cream, classic tomato, mushroom gravy), all in a bowl or to pick in a type of sandwich such as: sliders, heroes, brioche bun. Sides include: risotto (pic below- ask for a side of grated parm cheese to add on), polenta, spaghetti, rigatoni, steamed broccoli, steamed spinach, salad, etc. Then your mouth-watering balls are delivered and your done. This place is a machine, pumping out all kinds of meatball combinations daily and nightly well until 4 a.m. when the drunk crowd stumbles in. The restaurant has been so well received and a city favorite allowing it to expand locations quickly. While I’ve heard the wait can last up to a couple hours (even at 2 a.m.), I’ve luckily never had to wait longer than 20 minutes in the late afternoon. You can always get your order to go. Also, the hostess will take your phone number and text you when the table is ready, so you can meander around the neighborhood.
Surprisingly, I think the Simple Salad which is just arugula and apples is a major standout among all the sides. Not surprisingly, I think the Ice Cream Sandwich with Peanut Butter Cookies and Caramel Ice Cream is the best thing on the menu. The cookies and ice creams are all made in-house daily and each flavor reflects it’s taste so strongly -especially the mint ice cream. Other cookie options include: Chocolate Chip, Brownie, Ginger Snap and ice creams include: Chocolate, Vanilla, Espresso. Now onto the balls, the classic beef and chicken taste pretty similar as they aren’t the moistest meatballs I’ve ever had, but they sure get the job done. Locanda Verde and Rubirosa throw some close competition into the ring. However, the Spicy Meat Sauce trumps the Classic Tomato. If the special ball of the day is Lamb get it. A piece of Focaccia comes with your order if you get the Naked Balls (which are 4 balls in a bowl with sauce vs. on a sandwich), and it’s delicious to dip it in the sauce and get a mouthful with your meatball. The Lower East Side location is snug with tiny tables scattered around a lage communal table in the center as well as a bar area. It’s a fun, casual environment where everyone looks like they are ready to pounce on their plates and dedicated to manly grubbing. Check out The Meatball Shop for brunch, lunch, dinner or a late night snack that will satisfy your cravings and keep your wallet happy. So props to you, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow what a great business model…you win.
***Check out this video from Vice.com for a food night out on the town with Daniel and Michael, love it: http://www.vice.com/munchies/the-meatball-shop.