Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'll take you to the Meatball Shop

The meatball shop does one thing, and they do it well. Yes, they have salad and veggies, and amazing ice-cream sandwiches. But in terms of entrees, there is meatball and only meatball. No appetizers. No need. Five kinds of meatball (including a special which was roast beef and cabbage when I visited), four kinds of sauce, and four ways to order. First you pick the size: bowl (four to an order with focaccia on the side), slider, smash (two meatballs on toasted brioche), hero (three meatballs on Il Forno baguette with side salad). The smash and hero come with your choice of either provolone or mozzarella cheese. On top of that, there is a choice of either white or whole wheat for the hero. Then you pick the meat (pork, chicken, beef, veggie, special), you pick the sauce (tomato, spicy meat, parmesan cream, mushroom gravy), and you try not to stare at other people's plates while waiting. All of this on a menu that has checkboxes and has been laminated, with the preferred items marked off using an erasable marker.
I went with the hero, pork meatball, spicy meat sauce, provolone cheese, whole wheat baguette, Brooklyn lager on tap. Was ordering whole wheat on a hero like that similar to ordering a large diet coke with a Big Mac value meal? Perhaps. Then again, whole wheat bread adds flavor that white bread is normally lacking, although I am sure this would not have been the case here. (See photographic evidence here.)
Immediately after ordering, I noticed a lot of people went with parmesan cream sauce and I began to regret my decision. I was not disappointed by the spicy meat sauce. Not at all. I just wondered whether the parmesan cream would have been better. I will have to wait until my next trip to find out for sure.
The pork meatball was just great. It held up well in the sandwich, neither falling apart nor stubbornly refusing to be bitten into. Well-seasoned, good sized and quite filling. Il Forno's bread did not dominate the sandwich as is the case too often. The spicy meat sauce was actually a little spicy, which means it was really spicy since my sensitivity is a little dulled. The light green salad served its purpose well, occasionally breaking up the succession of weighty bites from the hero. My pork meatball, provolone, spicy meat sauce, whole wheat hero did not go quickly, and I found that I was pretty well stuffed by the end.
The waitress sensed my defeat at the hands of this meatball hero and asked if I wanted the check. She was pleasantly surprised (possibly because a bigger check equals a bigger tip) when I mentioned wanting an ice cream sandwich. Like my first visit to Butter Lane, they were out of one item and it was exactly what I planned to order. No caramel ice cream, hence no peanut butter cookie / caramel ice cream sandwich. Apparently the waitress' favorite. So I went with chocolate ice cream and, once again, was not disappointed. Rather than make a mess, I broke up the cookies with my spoon and assembled small bites from the fractured cookie. This was after a first failed bite that squeezed out a fair amount of ice cream back onto the plate. The ice cream sandwich disappeared in near record time - the ice cream was melting and I had to act fast.
And for the grand finale, the check totaled $19.25 after tax. Not bad at all.

The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton Street (between Orchard and Allen)

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