Where to Eat Great Meatballs from Coast to Coast
Photo By: Anjali M. PInto ©Lettuce Entertain You Inc
Photo By: Simon Hare Photography ©SHP
Photo By: Travis Anderson
Meatballs are culinary ambassadors, offering diners a taste of Italy, Sweden, Japan and beyond. Whether bite-sized or massive, appetizer or entree, served with sauce or spaghetti, paired with mashed potatoes, or even served on top of a pizza, meatballs are savory and satisfying — and loved by kids and adults alike.
By Amy Sherman
Sugo, an Italian and Greek family restaurant in the Johns Creek suburb of Atlanta, serves one massive meatball as an appetizer made with sausage and stuffed with roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and dates, then doused in tomato basil sauce. The meatball is so popular that the restaurant owner has hosted classes on how to make it.
Photo courtesy of Castellucci Hospitality Group
Chef Bryan Voltaggio's relaxed fine dining restaurant utilizes local ingredients from the Mid-Atlantic. The meatballs are on the traditional side, braised in a bright tomato sauce with basil, served over homemade chitarra pasta and topped with Parmesan. The restaurant also offers a more refined six-course tasting menu that blends luxurious ingredients with modern techniques.
Photo by Bonjwing Lee
This neighborhood restaurant in River North Chicago serves seasonal comfort food with a twist. Their Japanese chicken meatballs flavored with onion, scallion, ginger and garlic are served with a chili cilantro sauce. A serving of four meatballs makes a perfect snack or starter.
Chicago: Davanti Enoteca
Chef Jaysen Euler's prosciutto and veal meatballs, served with braised greens and shaved pecorino cheese from Italy, is a messy yet decadent dish. The food is mostly shareable plates inspired by the traditional peasant recipes from Italy's farm towns and fishing villages. Other favorites on the menu include a board topped with polenta and ragu, and the linguine with sea urchin and crab.
Washington, D.C.: Del Campo
This upscale South American grill in Washington, D.C., with dark oak floors, antique mirrors, chandeliers and South American antiques, is worth the splurge when you're looking for something a little bit different than the typical steakhouse. You'll find albondigas served as part of the restaurant's asado offerings. They are grilled, made with a combination of lamb, veal and pancetta.
Photo by Greg Powers
In Denver's River North district is an eclectic, contemporary American bar and grill with a menu of mostly shared plates that range from a foie gras "PB&J" to wood-fired mussels and oak grilled octopus with gnocchi. Diners rave about the tomato-braised meatballs served over Anson Mills stone-ground grits with Burrata and basil, which are on the lunch, midday and dinner menus.
Photo by Justin Lee
Denver: Osteria Marco
At LoDo favorite Osteria Marco, lamb meatballs are served over creamy polenta with housemade capra ricotta and a splash of smoked tomato brodo. They offer meatball sliders and a lamb meatball panini with arugula pesto, smoked pepper-tomato jam and goat cheese. This restaurant is the offshoot of higher-end Luca, but while the atmosphere may be casual, the food and service are top-notch.
Photo by Scottie Davidson
Dallas: Apollonia's Italian Kitchen
Apollonia's in Richardson is a good old-fashioned neighborhood Italian restaurant run by Italian owners by way of southern New Jersey. You might consider meatballs one of their specialties. In addition to spaghetti and meatballs, they serve mini meatballs in Italian wedding soup, a meatball "smash" sandwich with a fried egg, and a meatball pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, hand-broken meatballs, ricotta cheese and fresh basil.
McLean, Va.: Wildfire
The martinis are dry and the meatballs saucy at this 1940s-style jazzy dinner club featuring Chicago-style steaks and chops. The classic meatballs are made with lean grass-fed bison, finished in a slow-cooked tomato and basil sauce, a little chicken jus and garlic butter, placed in a casserole dish, topped with Asiago cheese, then baked in a 650 degree F wood-burning oven until bubbly and hot. Served six to an order, they are a must-order appetizer.
Photo by Anjali Pinto
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Angelo Elia Pizza, Bar, Tapas
Angelo Elia's casual wine bar and restaurant in Fort Lauderdale offers contemporary Italian cuisine. The menu consists of an extensive wine list and a variety of pizzas, Italian small plates and sandwiches. But the tender and rich veal meatballs made with pecorino and served in tomato sauce with basil couldn't be more traditional. The meatballs are one of the most-popular menu items, made from a family recipe.
Photo by South Moon Photography
Las Vegas: Carson Kitchen
Chef Kerry Simon's downtown restaurant has been the hot destination since it opened in the summer of 2014. The exciting small plates are generous portions and well-priced. One of the must-order dishes is the impossibly tender mini veal meatballs bathed in a luscious sherry foie gras cream sauce and topped with green peas.
Photo by Peter Harasty
This luxe dining room set in the Gale Hotel in Miami, with marble tables, gray leather lounges and a mozzarella bar, is known for meatballs. The veal and beef meatballs are lightened with a mixture of moist breadcrumbs and flavored with garlic, Romano cheese and a touch of parsley. Three plump meatballs are served over creamy polenta.
Fika means "coffee break" in Swedish — fitting for a cafe inside the American Swedish Institute. It's a refreshing and authentic place, and the food is much like you'd find in Stockholm, including hearty open-faced sandwiches, potato dumplings and gravlax. Swedes and meatball lovers enjoy the very traditional and soul-soothing version of juniper-spiced Swedish meatballs, served with mashed potatoes, mustard sauce, cucumber and lingonberry jam.
Handed down from Marc Vetri's Sicilian grandmother, Sal's old-school meatballs are seared and succulent. His recipe features ground veal, beef and pork mixed with bread soaked in milk. A warm and casual trattoria with an exposed industrial feel, Amis serves the meatballs in a simple and classic manner with red sauce, Parmesan and parsley.
Phoenix: Culinary Dropout
A gastropub in Phoenix with cheeky attitude and uniform-free staff is home to the mash-up known as Buffalo chicken meatballs. Chef Clint Woods uses dolce Gorgonzola and celery leaf to give the familiar Buffalo wing flavor to some spicy meatballs. The rest of the menu features a mishmash of Italian food, barbecue, soups, salads and sandwiches.
San Francisco: The Fly Trap
The Fly Trap dates back to 1883, but on the menu today Chef Hoss Zaré weaves his Persian background into Mediterranean- and California-style dishes. It's a warm and inviting restaurant that invites lingering. Zaré is famous for his pistachio meatballs with a beguiling mixture of ingredients, including harissa, lime, honey, pomegranate, cumin, whole-grain mustard, tarragon, rosemary and summer savory.
Photo by Jason Purcell
San Francisco: Merigan Sub Shop
Chef Liza Shaw prepares Italian-American-style sub sandwiches — both hot and cold — in an industrial space, in South Park. The meatball sub features impossibly large and tender pork and beef meatballs, sloppy tomato sauce with basil, and oozing mozzarella and provolone. This is the platonic ideal of a meatball sandwich.
Photo by Dana Eastland