Finally, The Meatball Shop Gets an Upper East Side Location!
It was during the winter of 2010 when Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman opened their Lower East Side Meatball Shop, and more than a few critics scoffed at the audacity of the idea. A whole restaurant where basically the only thing on the menu was meatballs?! Ridiculous. Ah, but Chernow and Holzman clearly knew what they were doing, and the LES Meatball Shop was an instant smash hit, with long waits and festive crowds flocking to Stanton Street for its lively scene, fun cocktails, amiable service, and really, really good balls.
Other Meatball Shops quickly followed, in Williamsburg, the West Village, and Chelsea, and each has been mobbed since day one. And now The Meatball Shop finally moves uptown, with a brand new outpost on Second Avenue between 77nd and 76th that, just a quick hop for our Upper East Side Glenwood residents. True to form, the location has been greeted with more than a little enthusiasm by the locals.
Comparing the UES Location to The Others
I went to the new UES Meatball Shop on its second night, getting there early enough to avoid the lines that have been Instagrammed (pictured above) ever since. I've been a Meatball Shop fan since the beginning. Even tested them by making comparisons to other meatballs, like the ones served up at the Meatball Factory; but not much compares to the Meatball Shop's food and their consistently friendly staffers. Super-popular restaurants that greet you with waaaaay too much attitude are legion in this town, so I'm always struck by the down-to-earth vibe here at The Meatball Shop, especially considering their mostly scene-y locations. Anyway, the UES Meatball Shop follows its predecessors in its mix-n-match menu: choose your type of ball (beef, spicy pork, chicken, etc.); choose your sauce (classic tomato, mushroom gravy, pesto, etc.); choose your starch (on a hero with melted cheese, as a slider, on top of pasta, on top of mashed potatoes, etc.); pick some veggies for your sides; done. You'd be surprised by the sheer variety of meals you can concoct from a menu that's mostly meatballs.
Reccommended Meatball Orders
My "usual" at the Meatball Shop is some version of a pork or beef meatball hero, but I think the sleeper hit here are the chicken balls. At the UES Meatball Shop, for example, I had a terrific plate of chicken balls (they're dense, chewy, and packed with flavor), set atop the special risotto (with sweet corn and roasted poblano peppers), covered in parmesan cream sauce. It was delicious. Also very good was my classic beef ball slider, the spicy meat sauce un-timid about providing a good kick. But, really, it's no surprise that I enjoyed my meal here, because in a dozen or so visits to various Meatball Shops over the years, I've always enjoyed my meals. My kids, too.
More Information: The Upper East Side Meatball Shop
The Upper East Side Meatball Shop is located on Second Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets, and is open daily from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight. Visit the Meatball Shop online for more information and a look at the complete menu (including daily specials at each location).