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
Chicago: Davanti Enoteca
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
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
Phoenix: Culinary Dropout
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