The Meatball Shop / Brooklyn, NY


“…their Slider is the loosey-goosey interpretation that everyone has become accustomed to getting…”

Not to put too fine a point on it, Williamsburg is fucking cool. Yeah it’s a bit hipster, but it’s original hipster: everyone walking around just is, there’s no pretence about it. And judging by the perma-bustle of Bedford Avenue between 3rd and 12th, where the Brooklyn branch of Meatball Shop is situated, its arguably the beating heart. Whenever we headed there at varying times of day, throngs of the freelance mafia meandered along the road in a serene, creative funk.

And why the hell not - there’s a bunch ton of eateries, stores, coffee shops and dive bars (including personal favourite of ours, Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern) to keep you occupied, and McCarren Park is a short wander, where one can while away the hours with a barely concealed forty or two.

New York loves single dish restaurants, and so it should, as it practically invented them. Almost too obviously, Meatball Shop rolls into this category serving its balls in various formats: differing numbers, in differing bread/salad receptacles. We were lucky to grab some seats by the kitchen, even if the waitress had to move her colleague doing some admin there out of the way to do so. Yes, the service was awesome.

The Smash is as close to a burger as you’ll get here: three balls bashed down into something that very loosely resembles a patty. Going with the classic beef and tomato options with provolone, I’d created something like a traditional meatball sub-burger, and self-high-five, it was boss: the combination of ricotta and prosciutto in the smashed balls created a towering meaty flavour. The tomato sauce on top was authentically rich, tangy, sweet – the stuff you only wish you could make at home. Housed in an outstanding brioche, it was a fresh take on an old staple.

With a ball in a mini brioche, their Slider is the loosey-goosey interpretation that everyone has become accustomed to getting when they order them. This arbitrary redefinition is usually a sticking point with me, but i was prepared to overlook it in the case of this special, the Buffalo chicken ball with Blue cheese sauce in a baby brioche.

It was truly brilliant. Not the in-your-face heat of a wing - the buffalo flavour in this ball is instantly recognisable but more subtle, with almost a creamy undertone in the delicate chicken meat, and the blue cheese dressing compounded the subtlety with a spot on tang that wasn’t overpowering. I could have easily eaten a hero of them. Probably two heroes of them. We’d barely finished eating the sliders and were all talking about how feasible coming back the next day would be. Yes.

With the buzzing vibe of a bar, with the opening hours to match, TMS pulls off a great atmosphere with casual aplomb that keeps waves of people coming back. As a result, there’s been much aping of the model. Meatballs in Clerkenwell even sites TMS as its inspiration, and doesn’t their menu show it. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then judging by Meatballs we guess blatant fucking plagiarism is the cheekiest. Will it be as good? Doubtful. So we think we’ll stick to grabbing our balls in New York for now.

  • Rob.
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