A few years ago while at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles (on a Lindsay Lohan stakeout), we overheard a conversation between two women about starting a restaurant in New York that served nothing but meatballs. The concept sounded pretty okay, but the conversation itself, in that setting, was rather comical, so we mostly laughed about it.
Fast forward to 2013, and there we are in The Meatball Shop in Brooklyn (no relation to the Chateau Marmont conversation, but it felt like a funny prelude) salivating at our options. The menu alone is a thing of beauty: First you pick what type of meatball you want, then what type of sauce you want, then how you want it served. It is really a master look at customization in action. There are a variety of sauces and serving styles, including in a bowl, on top of any number of pasta or sides, on a slider and more, and everything sounded so good, we certainly had a hard time making our selection.
After a long and in-depth discussion, we decided on vegetarian meatballs with tomato sauce in a bowl, with sides of risotto and polenta (plus a jug of wine, duh). What was delivered to us was pure heaven. While vegetarian meatballs may not be for everyone, The Meatball Shop ha a great version that is more than your standard soy substitute with a nice texture that includes lentils and grains. The restaurant also offers classic beef, spicy pork, chicken and a rotating special, and for the sauces, spicy meat sauce, parmesan cream, pesto and mushroom gravy. The sides really made it though. At only $5 each, the polenta and leek risotto (the risotto selection changes weekly), were some of the best we have ever had at any price. The risotto was perfectly creamy and the polenta was an incredible balance of salty and sweet. Next time, we aren’t sharing.
The other sides sounded just as delicious, so it seems like you can’t go wrong. We made a mistake of not saving room for dessert, but next time we would really like to as you can make customizable ice cream sandwiches.
What once sounded like a weird conversation between young entrepreneurs in LA, became a wonderfully executed group of restaurants in NY (open until 4 a.m. on the weekends!). Although the flight to NY would be worth the trip for those meatballs and sides, we hope the idea comes full circle and makes its way back to California.