Sliders from The Meatball Shop
My first restaurant review! I love trying out the new “insert specialty food” place. Whether it’s “that taco place,” “that bao place” or “that falafel place” I get super excited when a new restaurant opens up that has one particular specialty dish. So, when The Meatball Shop opened up in the Lower East Side, I was dying to try it out. Of course, I had to wait a few weeks until the crowd died down a bit, and it didn’t help that Yahoo! had an article on their front page about the place.
But finally, a couple weeks ago, on a Sunday night, a fellow foodie friend and I decided to check out the place. Even then, the place was still pretty crowded. At about 5PM a wait for 2 was 45 minutes. If you don’t want to wait, there are a couple options. The bar seating is first come first serve, and they serve the full menu. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a place nearby, you can walk right up to the take-out counter and get your food to go.
The space itself is a bit cramped, especially when there are a lot of people waiting. There is a large bar that runs the length of the dining area, and the dining tables are one very large communal table (where my friend and I ended up sitting) and a handful of two-tops around the edge. I’m not the biggest fan of communal tables. It’s kinda like getting the middle seat on a airplane where you have to share the space; also it seems like everyone is eavesdropping on your conversation.
When you sit down, you get a laminated menu and a dry-erase marker to mark up the choices of what you want. There are a lot of choices to make: You pick the type of meat, the type of sauce, whether you want them “naked” (served plain), in a hero, over pasta, in a slider, in a salad, or in a brioche. There are also several sides you can order. Every day there are specials – for the types of meatballs and sauce as well as the sides.
We wanted to get a good sampling of the meatballs. We ordered the “Special” meatball which that night was lamb – served “naked” style. We also ordered 1 slider each of chicken, pork, beef, and vegetable. We tried to sample all the sauces as well: Tomato, Spicy Meat Sauce, Mushroom Gravy, Parmesan and Pesto. If that weren’t enough we also ordered the Daily Green – which was Kale, and the Daily Roast Veggie – which was Squash.
The meal was pretty good. My favorite meatball by far was the beef. Sometimes you can’t change a classic. A close second was the lamb – which was great! The one disappointment was the veggie meatball. Although the owners claim that this is one of their most popular orders for health nuts. But, for me, I just don’t think you can have a meatball without meat! The consistency just didn’t do it, it was falling apart on the plate, and it had a very plain taste. Maybe we picked the wrong type of sauce to go with it – but I probably wouldn’t order that again.
If you do go: do NOT skip out on desserts. The Ice cream sandwiches were excellent! You get to pick the cookie as well as the ice cream flavor (and yes, you can pick 2 different flavors of cookie) Hehe. Again, we went with the special flavor – Oatmeal Ice cream. With an oatmeal cookie and a ginger snap cookie. My only complaint was that the cookies were not soft, so it was a little hard to eat with a spoon. We also ordered an ice cream float – which were good, but not noteworthy.
Overall, I think it’s a fun place to visit. While the beef and lamb meatball was excellent, a meatball is just something that I don’t usually crave, and it’s just not special enough food that I can’t easily get somewhere, or a food that can really be made so uniquely that a restaurant would be known for it. If you do go, try to go at an off-time and make sure you go with a smaller group. But I would wait until the hype dies down.
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
(between Allen & Orchard)
New York, NY 10002
Phone (212) 982-8895
Fax (212) 982-8859