It's always a challenge for us to properly rate an establishment that specializes in one thing. Our rating system is a complex algorythm (developed during my tenure at MIT), that assigns numeric values to countless variables like food quality, menu options, service, atmosphere, and the probability that you will get laid after dinner. It's science.
What we have noticed though, is that a lack of variables consistently produces the same result...most of the restaurants that specialize in one thing earn high marks from us. The following evidence supports our hypothesis: Burger Joint, Luke's Lobster, Bark Hot Dogs, Flex Mussels, and Caracas.
Another test of this theory brings us to The Meatball Shop, a restaurant on the Lower East Side operating with the sole purpose of turning out ridiculously good meatballs and presenting you a few options in which to consume them. There are meatball sandwiches, meatball sliders, meatballs in sauce, and meatballs on pasta. Other than a few sides and a nice wine list...that's it. The result? We love it. A concept that could easily have been a divey storefront serving late night heroes is instead a wonderfully executed and surprisingly nice restaurant where you can enjoy a glass of wine while you get fatter by the meatball. The staff is friendly, it's a lively atmosphere, and the food is solid. Another specialist restaurant beats our formula. Oh well. We suck at math anyway.
We'll kick this off by tackling the meatballs on their own. The pork is by far the best, followed by the beef and the lamb (if available). The chicken meatballs are unimpressive, and the salmon one freaked me out. They are all relatively light, though eat too many and you will feel it in your gut for a day at least (trust us). While nice on their own, these meatballs are best showcased in a sandwich, rather than simply in sauce or atop a bowl of pasta.
Served on a baguette with your choice of ball, sauce, cheese, and bread type. Our favorite is pork, spicy meat sauce, and provolone on whole wheat. Possibly the perfect meatball sandwich. The only knock we have is that we'd like some more kick from that spicy meat sauce.
Two meatballs served on a brioche bun. A bit smaller than the hero with the same options, and still very good. We prefer the hero to the smash simply because the baguette holds up a little better. This got soggy pretty quickly.
A nice way to sample the goods, we absolutely love the special lamb meatball with mushroom sauce. The chicken with parmesan cream sauce was a let down. For $3 a pop, your money is better spent diving into a bigger sandwich. Get a hero.
Buttery, creamy mashed potatoes with bits of skin. Rich and perfect, just don't fill up on it.
Order one of these or risk wasting the best years of your life knowing only the Chipwhich.