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!