Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Meatball Rolls in Brooklyn ...


Have you any idea how difficult it is to hold a drink, eat an absurd amount of meatballs while standing up - packed into a room with hundreds of carnivorous hipsters - while trying to document it all in pictures ... and not spill anything in the process?

I mean, sure, I could have put down the drink ... but ... ya know. ~wink~

Suffice it to say my photographic coverage of Friday's Meatball Slap-Down at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg is lacking to say the least. By the time the proceedings got underway, I was so hungry that any good photographic intentions lost out to my strong desire to chow!


Held at the stylish and ultra-cool butcher shop, The Meat Hook, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last Friday's Meatball Slap-Down was certainly a feast for the senses! The Meat Hook's retail space is entirely charming - a treat for the eyes - full of all sorts of kitchen ware ... everything from old fashioned meat grinders to retro-chic CorningWare. The air was redolent with the inviting aromas of garlic, sauce and simmering meat; and the auditory component was supplied by a live dj spinning trippy tracks. Clearly, the scene was set for a great party.

But how were the meatballs? Dude, they were awesome! Let's get to it! Below, the list of entries in order of Diva preference ...

Frankie's Spuntino: Surprisingly, this meatball was my favorite. Rich and meaty, with a lovely soft, simmered texture, Frankie's meatballs were so good we couldn't stop eating them. All four of us went back to Frankie's for seconds and it came as no surprise that they were the winner. Both the crowd and the panel of judges agreed. Savory, delicious, perfect! Grade = A

Bamonte's: NYC's oldest Italian restaurant - and a long time favorite of the Diva family. I'll be honest, I expected Bamonte's to win ... and more than that, I expected to vote for them as my personal favorite. But, honestly, they were edged out just ever-so-slightly by Frankie's. Bamonte's meatball is a classic: a tender mix of beef, pork and veal that tastes like the meatballs of my childhood. Their texture is perfect, their flavor impeccable - and they'll always be a favorite for me. Grade = A-

Roebling Tea Room: A good, solid, contender - but nowhere near as good as Frankie's or Bamonte's. The Roebling Tea Room's meatball was fine, perhaps even good, but the texture wasn't exactly right - too coarse - and their sauce lacked oomph, it lacked zest. Rumor had it that they were shaving black truffles over their meatballs but I sure didn't get any and I'm positive that to do so is unnecessary. Meatballs are peasant food - they don't need no stinkin' truffles. Period. Grade = B

The Meat Hook: I wanted to like this meatball simply because The Meat Hook is such an awesome shop. Sadly, I just didn't dig it. The texture was all wrong: way too chunky and coarse, more like a sausage or salami than a meatball. And, sadly for me, I detected the distinct flavor of lamb. No, just no. We didn't go back for seconds. Grade = C

Roberta's: A Bushwick favorite, known for its pizza, I had high hopes for this meatball. Sadly, those hopes were dashed with the first bite. The texture was bad and the flavor was worse. Overly seasoned, with too much fennel, it tasted like like someone dumped half a box of salt into the mix. Not only did I *not* return for seconds, I didn't even make it through the first meatball. Revolting. Grade = D

Now, let's be clear - I'm a meatball fanatic and I come from a long line of meatball wizardry. My beloved Grandma Pam made the best meatballs on earth; Mama Diva's are amazing too; and my own are spectacular. So picky am I about meatballs, that I went to the smack-down expecting to only like one - Bamonte's. I was pleasantly surprised. Ultimately, I loved two of the entries, and liked a third. Color me delighted!

That said, there wasn't a single meatball there that I'd prefer over my own ... someday, I'll give you the recipe.

In summary, it was a great event. We had a blast and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. What a great way to kick off the weekend and I tip my cap to Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli of Frankie's Spuntino ...


Congrats on a well-deserved win!

Cheers!

17 comments:

Donna-FFW said...

Ha.. I wouldnt have put down my drink either:)

What fun that must have been. Great review of each. Yes, one day you'll have to share your recipe!

stephchows said...

man I wish I lived closer so I could have gone to this! Would have been amazing!

Laura said...

I love the line "meatballs are peasant food and they don't need no stinkin' truffles" which is of course everything wrong with the way "foodies" dress up food. It's too much sometimes good food just needs to be that-good food. If it needs too many pretties to make it stand out there must be something wrong.

That said excellent post Diva!

Mo Diva said...

I am sooooo jealous! not only is this place in my hometown of Willie B but it looks like a stupendous event!

Im hungry now.

pixelgal said...

Far be it from my Diva to mince words! I liked the line about the truffles as well and agree with Laura about food-especially old standards like the meatball. It doesn't need too much in the way of 'fancy' it just needs to taste good! And I'm so glad to know that Corning ware is retro chic. Guess my cookware is finally in style. Anyway, Diva, don't be too long with that recipe. People's mouths are already watering after your descriptions.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks, all! We had such a great time - so glad we did this little spur-of-the-moment event. I will get around to posting my meatball recipe at some point, I promise. The only problem is ... I don't measure anything so I'll have to do some technical work to get it "blog-ready". Stay tuned!

Wish you guys could have been there too! :)

Fresh Local and Best said...

It looks like quite a fund event! I'll have to keep Frankie's in mind for my next meatball adventure.

The Vintage Kitten said...

That looks like a great event. Meatballs are yummy! X

doggybloggy said...

what a fun time and I would have hated the "licorice meat" too!

A home far away said...

Wow grat photos!

Have a great day
Hugs the Swedish woman in Sinapore:)

Deb said...

Looking forward to your recipe - my own meatballs are sad - they taste great but never hold together for that perfect meatball shape. I'm sure you have that piece perfected!

Wish we could have joined you for the smackdown - nithing like good food drinks and friends for a fun time!

Maven said...

That sounds like so much fun. I envy you that you live where you do!

I love it when Bobby Flay hosts his throwdowns in NYC because it's so fun to see the variety of amazing restaurants there are to choose from.

And I have to tel you, I love a good meatball.

Tangled Noodle said...

The envy is eating away at me! Your descriptions of the entries were so vivid, I could almost taste the meatballs. Almost . . . which makes the craving even more keen.

Just for torturing me, you have to give up your meatball recipe.

Wilma said...

Hi Auntie, You are beautuful and I love you. Did I ever tell you you're my favorite Auntie?
Um, do you think maybe, if you ever go again to this meat fest that you could bring me? I promise I won't make a sound. No one will even know I'm there.Any meatballs you dislike, I will eat them right up, as not to waste meat.
And Grammy, I will clean right up after you in the kitchen if you will make me some of your beloved meatballs. That will be a great day.

justjoycee said...

Great post....

5 Star Foodie said...

I would have loved to go to this meatballs tasting event! Sounds like it was a wonderful experience!

words...words...words... said...

That picture...meatball, sauce, rigatoni, garlic bread...I just don't need anything else in life. Maybe a good dry red to go with it.

As others have said, you're so right about meatballs as peasant food. Before we all got rich and meat was easy to find, they were usually half bread! I still put a good amount of bread in mine, but mine are very mediocre. I'd love to see your recipe!