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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ The Meatball Shop / 1720 14th. St., NW

 Believe it or not, meatballs have inspired multiple online listings of meatball-focused websites, noting that the meatball is a universally beloved food with a lengthy history. These tempting goodies show up in soups, stews, pizza toppings, pasta dishes, and even cheese-plus-meatball sandwiches. And meatballs may be made from lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, and beef—and even from mashed up and squished together assorted cooked veggies.

It is not surprising that this New York City meatballs restaurant has has opened an outpost here on 14th Street. According to its website, These are privately owned by two guys — and both attended culinary schools, so they do know a thing or two about cooking.

DC’s location opened recently with its eat-in appeal, but it also offers take-out delivery service, probably to a limited area. But if what you want is to sit down in this small but contemporary setting, you better hope you live within walking distance, especially if you want a meaty lunch. Parking is nearly impossible midday, with streets blocked for construction workers or residents only. If you don’t fit either of those categories, you could spend 45 minutes driving around and around.

Once parked, wherever, and seated inside, patrons can enjoy the wall art, the friendly waiter who explained well what the menu offered, the bar area, and if seated just right, a clear view of the kitchen and cooks down the hallway. But it’s all about figuring out the menu, which takes the meatball —- and other foodie balls — to a whole different level.

Start with appetizers, of course. You probably should make your whole meal out of the kitchen’s risotto balls, one of the best offerings in the house. Made from sticky risotto rice that is compressed into seasoned balls and covered with a crunchy coating before deep-frying, these come four to an order with a side dipping sauce. Outstanding. But maybe what the kitchen does with crabmeat shaped into balls and chicken shaped into Buffalo Balls and served with a blue cheese dip could be fair competitors.

How do you like your meatballs?? The kitchen offers various options, of course, from the pricy “bucket of balls” with 25 meatballs of your choice to “baller plates” of assorted entrée ball-friendly dishes to bowls of balls to sandwiches with your choice of balls (chicken, pork, salmon, lobster, and classic) with assorted sauces. This gives patrons the choice of eating it with a classic tomato sauce, to kicking it up with a spicy meat sauce; the salmon, lobster and special balls have specific sauces.

So what to pick? The obvious lunch choice would be a sandwich. The Hero comes with three balls, and the spicy pick did not really get a spicy kick. Sadly, for someone looking for the tangy bite, neither the meat nor the “spicy” sauce topping hit the mark. Maybe the Crab Po’Boy in a brioche bun with Old Bay aioli would knock one out.

Dessert choice???? Unless you are into an ice cream sandwich with a limited choice of flavors of ice cream and cookiea, you might just order the coffee and head out.

The Meatball Shop / Sun.-Tue. 11:30am-12mid.; Wed. & Thu. to 1am; Fri. & Sat. to 11am2am. (202) 684-8564.

 

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.