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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Meatball Shop

After happy hour with the girls on Friday everyone was hungry. I suggested the newly opened Meatball Shop since we were in the Lower East Side and The Meatball Shop is on Stanton and Allen. When I say after happy hour I technically mean after happy hour and after a few pit stops at some local bars. 

When we arrived the place was packed. There was a crowd of people standing outside on the sidewalk and camera men surrounding the entire restaurant. All we wanted to do was grab some meatballs to go. At this point we didn't even know if this simple task was possible. A few people were leaving with what looked like to go boxes so we asked how long the to go wait was. All I heard was "WHAT! An hour?" Well, I thought that couldn't be possible, headed inside and found someone who looked like they knew what they were talking about. The response I got was exactly what I needed to hear, "about 10 minutes." 

I quickly navigated the crowed, popped my head outside and said 10 minutes! Everyone came rushing in. We lined up behind to to go counter directly in the back and passed the menu's back and forth. We thought the hardest part was over. We were wrong. The big problem was still ahead of us. The to go counter double as the service station in which the food came out. We wanted everything. The poor girl kept narrating each dish that came out for us. Eventually we asked one of the chef's which dish they would recommend. The recommendation was the meatball special of the day. Unfortunately, you can not get sliders to go so, we each ended up sharing a "Smash" with one other person.

Emma and I shared the "Special Smash" with the Parmesan cream sauce. Kristen and Sara had the same thing while Mike went with a Hero and Jerra stuck with the simple order of four "Special Meatballs." 

I have wanted to try this tasty joint for quite some time. I even posted a blog about it before it opened. I am in this area a lot for the convenience that it is only a ten minute walk from my apartment. Plus lot of my favorite singer songwriters play at Rockwood Music Hall which just so happens to be located around the corner. 

The Meatball Shop has a very rustic Italian feel with the long natural wood communal table, the white subway tiles, chalkboards , exposed brick and rustic dark stained wood floors. I also love the rustic wood bar display with the glass shelves for the wine bottles and glasses.  The black wood farm chairs also give a hint of cozy family vibe. 

The lighting is also very dim which gives a relaxed ambiance. Both the pendants over the bar and pendants over the single tables, which are different, are the new popular trendy thing.  So many new restaurants are doing this style. This bare bulb pendant has started quite the trend and I love it! I also love the sconces on the bar. Very industrial yet rustic. 

I am really bad about taking photographs off of the web and then forgetting where I found them so, I tried extra had to remember where these were from. Most of them are from New York Serious Eats and the rest are from The Meatball Shop's own website. 

I love the concept of their menu as well. Each table gets their own menu to fill out. How exciting is that. I love hands on things. 

As I mentioned earlier, Jerra had the order of meatballs which are shown below. Their sides also looked amazing. I believe I saw macaroni and cheese too. 

Don't those Meatball Sliders look divine? 

And then there's the Meatball Smash. Mmm Mmm Mmm was that thing good! 

Of course you know I can't go anywhere without sampling dessert. Especially when it is one of my all time favorite desserts since I was a little Californian. Chipwiches have been one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures since the day I was introduced to them at Balboa Park. I was under the age of seven and I still remember the tasty goodness of those chewy chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream sandwiched in between.  

So when I saw Ice Cream Sandwiches with cookie and ice cream options my excitement was almost too much to handle for my friends. Without too much pressure Emma agreed to share a brownie cookie with real homemade mint ice cream.  The ice cream was so fresh and you could taste the real unprocessed mint. 

Of course now I'm craving one...

And here is the famous blogged about brownie and mint ice cream sandwich. How spectacularly delicious does that cookie look? 

Something I didn't know until today, all of The Meatball Shop's ingredients are locally sourced and of the highest quality. How awesome. I love restaurants that used locally sourced products. 

Daniel, who is now Mike's new bench best friend, the one who informed us that the to go wait was only 10 minutes and oh yeah, one of the owners of The Meatball Shop, was wonderful! He was so thankful that we came in, did everything he could to make our visit perfect and also helped us chose what to order.  He also informed us the men with the cameras floating around were there filming footage for a new show called Meat and Potatoes (?)for the Food Network (?).  I could totally have lied right there but, what I didn't lie about is that it will be on TV sometime! 

Daniel Holzman, Executive Chef/Co-owner. Daniel’s cooking career started at age 15 at LeBernardin in NYC. Daniel remained there for 4 years until, at the suggestion of Chef Eric Ripert, he attended the Culinary Institute of America with a full scholarship from the James Beard Foundation. Prior to graduation, Daniel accepted a position at the Paladin in New York City for Chef Jean Louis Paladin, working alongside such culinary notables as Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason. Six months later Jean Louis asked Daniel if he would be willing fill a vacancy at his flagship restaurant Napa in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. Accepting the offer, Daniel began a 10-year culinary journey through some of Los Angeles and San Francisco’s finest restaurants including The Campton PlaceThe Fifth FloorAqua and Jardinière. In 2004 Daniel began his first management job as chef of the California organic bistro, Axe, in Venice, Los Angeles. After one year at Axe, Daniel became Executive Chef at the Inn of the Seventh Ray, a 250 seat restaurant in the Topanga hills known for its romantic outdoor setting and lavish weddings. Daniel remained at the Inn until 2007 when he moved to San Francisco to open SPQR, a rustic Roman Osteria, as Co-owner and Executive chef. Within 3 months of the opening SPQR received 3½ out of 4 stars from Michael Bauer in The San Francisco Chronicle, a rating usually reserved for far fancier restaurants. “I've saved the best for last. It's actually one of the best dishes I've had all year - fresh shelling beans with pork soffrito. It's pure poetry: Huge creamy white beans that taste as if someone individually pureed the contents and stuffed them back into the tender membrane, crowned with an intense, sweet, salty and meaty mixture of pork with a dab of tomato and white wine. The play of textures and flavors would make Catherine de' Medici, credited with introducing Italian food to the French, weep for joy.” Daniel sold his interest in SPQR in 2008 and he and three partners founded KB treats LLC, an ice cream novelty company. KB’s first product, QB’s* (crispy rice and marshmallow treats filled with ice cream), were an immediate success and can be found in markets nation-wide, including Whole FoodsGiant and Stop and Shop. *

Michael Chernow, General manager/Co-owner. Michael Chernow began his professionalrestaurant career in 1996 behind the bar of the popular nightclub, Life, on Bleecker Street in NewYork City. Learning from the ground up, Michael quickly worked his way through the ranks becoming the youngest bartender on staff. After 2 years workingin both Life in New York and in its East Hampton sister club, The Tavern, Michael signed on to open Woo Lae Oak on Mercer St. in New York City. In 2001 Michael made the move to Los Angeles where he worked at Woo Lae Oak’s original location on La Cienega Blvd.Returning to New York, he opened Punch and Judy, a wine bar on Clinton Street. In 2002 Frank Prizanzano offered Michael a position behind the bar of his eponymous flagship restaurant Frank on Second Avenue. For the past 7 years Michael has been managing the bar at Frank where he has a large, loyal following. In 2007 Michael enrolled in French Culinary Institute FCI, graduated with honors, and was awarded an Associates Degree in bothculinary arts and restaurant management in 2008.

Contact them and join the rest of us meatball eating fools, literally (see below)!

This is Kristen's thumbs up approval! 

Our time at The Meatball Shop was great. Everyone and everything was delicious.  The atmosphere was perfect and it was the end to a typical and awesome New York City night with your best friends.

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