The Meatball Shop in NYC: A New Lower East Side Restaurant
Point taken. If you're going to open a restaurant in this town with basically one thing on the menu, "meatballs" is a solid choice. The Meatball Shop in NYC, just opened in the heart of the party district on the Lower East Side, was packed with 20-somethings before 6:30 the other night, and was only getting more crowded and rowdy as the night wore on. In fact, the bartender, when asked if the Meatball Shop on Stanton was always "like this", told us "you should see it here later!". We were lucky to snag some seats at the bar–the space itself is smallish but efficiently laid out, the room dominated by a central communal table–and ordered as much we could possibly eat from the Meatball Shop menu, not knowing when we'd be in the mood to elbow our way back in.
The Meatball Shop menu is clever in its coverage of dining options. There are five different meatballs on the menu–beef, spicy pork, chicken, salmon, and veggie–and one weekly special, on this night a nicely done lamb with mint and raisins. Pair them with your choice of sauce (red, meaty, creamy, mushroom gravy), and wolf them down in sliders, or on a hero, or on top of a starch, such as polenta, spaghetti, or mashed potatoes. Very smart. And though nothing spectacular, it's all a notch or two better than it needs to be, especially given the low prices (everything is about $2 less than they probably could get away with charging), and the likelihood that at a certain point every night, much of what the kitchen creates at the Meatball Shop in NYC will be treated simply as "drunk food".
We tried just about everything at the Meatball Shop in NYC, and the surprise winners were the special lamb ball, on fluffy mashed potatoes, with creamy sauce; and the chicken ball, with mushroom gravy, on a slider, the roll just the right combination of soft and chewy. The classic beef and the spicy pork balls were also acceptable, juicy and dense, though on a roll, covered with red sauce, it was tough to tell the two apart. We passed on the salmon and veggie varieties because… well, because we came to eat MEATballs, for crying out loud.
The sides at the Meatball Shop on Stanton were also quite good, the best, perhaps, being the roasted vegetables (butternut squash, even when a little dry, is always welcome at our meal), but the risotto was well-flavored and moist, and the polenta rib-stickingingly rich and creamy. The biggest disappointment here, surprisingly, was the dessert. Although an excellent concept–choose your ice cream, choose your cookie, make a sandwich–and all homemade, the mint ice cream was too toothpastey, the caramel mostly just cold, the chocolate chip cookie only so-so, the gooey brownie the only real star. These will probably improve as things get settled at the Meatball Shop in NYC, and at only $4 each, well worth a try.
The Meatball Shop in NYC Details.
The Meatball Shop in NYC, located on the Lower East Side on Stanton Street between Allen and Orchard Streets, is open every day from 12:00 noon until 4:00 a.m. For more information and the complete Meatball Shop menu, please visit The Meatball Shop website.