Ever think meatballs could be all the rage? Neither did I until I stumbled upon the bustling Meatball Shop. Intended as a favored stop for Lower East Side bar seekers, the Italian restaurant is known for its hearty spheres, complimentary sauces, and relaxed vibe. The menu is modest yet full of choices. First, hungry patrons choose from five types of meat balls: Chicken, Beef, Spicy Pork, Vegetable, or the Special: in addition to the consistent fare, there is a daily unique offering of selections. From there diners may choose a sauce whether is it Parmesan Cream, Pesto or one of their other three selections. At this point it’s all for the taking. How would you like your entrée served? Would you like to have them as sliders, heroes, or a smash sandwich – two meatballs “smashed” on a toasted brioche bun. All sandwiches are served with your choice of mozzarella or provolone cheese, a sauce and a side salad. Hungry for more choices? Here comes a curve “ball”- Everything but the Kitchen Sink – a dish of your choice of meatball, a sauce, a side salad and mystery side of fresh vegetables. It’s a mystery because the chef chooses which vegetable to serve as the plate is being made. It’s a dish of true inspiration. If you’re feeling frisky, add an order of The Family Jewels on top of your sauce main dish – a cheeky choice of a fried egg.
One of the most appealing elements of the dining experience is the ordering process. Guests can write on the menu, seriously! The laminated bill of fare, accompanied by markers, allows you mark off your food selections for ease and convenience.
The day I visited, the special was Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with a Blue Cheese Sauce. Although tempting, as a novice to the meatball fan club, I learned that you could never go wrong with ordering a Smash. My “smashingly” delicious sandwich consisted of a Spicy Pork meatball covered in Classic Tomato Sauce with melted mozzarella cheese. The side salad was a beautiful surprise of arugula greens, fresh apple slices, chives, and a light ‘n sweet vinaigrette dressing which nicely complimented the spicy pork. I enjoyed the peppered pork, but it could have withstood a stronger punch. Portions are not for a glutton, but “just enough.”
There was a healthy selection of beverages, which included that day’s special: Honey Rosemary Lemonade. This was surprisingly brilliant! A refreshing lemonade with an even balance between the honey, rosemary, and lemon with an essence of ginger.
I had to complete my meal with dessert (going the extra distance for my readers) by ordering an ice cream sandwich. I choose the day’s ice cream special, which was Banana, and then selected Ginger Snap Cookies as the outer layers of the sandwich. My goodness… it was nirvana in my mouth! The cookies were right at the goodness point – slightly firm on the outside and soft in the middle. The homemade banana ice cream’s ingredients reminded me of apple pie with bananas. Simply wonderful!
The Meatball Shop is extremely affordable. Nothing on the menu was over $10. What a find!
As a neighborhood favorite, which does not take itself too seriously, The Meatball Shop, is a keeper. Its décor is a great juxtaposition between a humbled dinning room with walls lined with old black and white family portraits and country style furniture, and the more modern effect of low sleek lighting, bo-ho chic staff, and the focal point of the modern wine display. There’s even a sizable chalkboard listing the daily wine specials.
Service is efficient, yet there is often a wait for a table. Reservations are not taken, but if you are willing to wait, you will not be disappointed.
There are plenty of balls of meat to go around! The Meatball Shop serves in three locations:
- Lower East Side – *84 Stanton St., 212-982-8895
- West Village – 64 Greenwich Ave., 212-982-7815
- Williamsburg, Brooklyn – 170 Bedford Ave., 718-551-0520
Budget Break Down:
Entrée: $ 8
Drink: $ 3 (non-special drinks are a lesser charge)
Dessert: $ 5
Total w/ tax and tip: $17.50
- Draws a crowd – typical wait time is 25 minutes depending on time and day
- Vegetarian friendly
- Community style seating
- Take Out available
- Open late night
- Payment Accepted: Cash, Visa, Master Card, and American Express
* The Lower East Side location was reviewed by Canny Candi.