Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meatballs: The New Burger?

Critics always argue over who has the best burger in the city, but the burger's meatball cousin rarely seems to get any attention. The new-ish Meatball Shop aims rectify that, and so far I'd say they're doing a pretty good job. Their spicy pork hero was recently mentioned on Grubstreet's 101 Best Sandwiches in New York, which is pretty awesome since that's exactly what I ordered. I sure know how to pick 'em!

Speaking of which, the unique ordering system here is one of my favorite aspects of the Meatball Shop. The menus come with dry erase markers so you can mark up the combination of sliders, heroes and plainly dressed meatballs you'd like to see on your plate. Say you'd like three kinds of meatball sliders -- a salmon slider with a mushroom topping, a vegetable meatball with tomato, and a classic beef topped with parmesan cream. Hard to remember? No problem -- just mark it all up on the slider grid. I'm waiting for tapas places to adopt dry-erase menus like these. I get a little bossy when a bunch of us dine together and I'm sure they'd appreciate not being assigned 2-3 items to remember each.

You would think that this whole setup makes servers' job as simple as possible (just collect and hand to the cooks?) but the service here needs a lot of work. Maybe I'm being a little harsh as they'd only been open a few weeks when we went , but the food took forever and when it DID come, the waitress had no idea what was what. There were colored toothpicks in each one, so we assumed they were representative of the type of enclosed meatball. Unfortunately this assumption is false, and everyone who ordered sliders ate most of someone else's before even realizing it.
Luckily, the tasty meatballs overshadowed the service. I had the spicy pork with parmesan cream and lots of mozzerella. The unexpected amount of cheesiness hit the spot, although the pork was a little bland to be labeled as spicy.

The meatball heroes, sliders and dishes were all tasty, but the homemade ice cream sandwiches were easily the highlight of the meal. You choose from five ice cream types to sandwich between five kinds of homemade cookies. I had vanilla on ginger snap, but I bet caramel on walnut meringue is equally amazing. The only unfortunate part is ordering the ice cream at the same time as the meatballs. I've never been to a place where I felt so pressured not to fill past the dessert line (an actual line in the stomach that some less experienced eaters may have trouble locating).
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton St
(between Allen St & Orchard St)
New York, NY 10002

Note: It appears I spoke too soon on the popularity of meatballs. Check out this upcoming Meatball Madness event hosted by none other than Giada De Laurentiis!

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