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The elusive meatball sandwich

I am forever in search of the great meatball sandwich. I like good homemade meatballs, not too firm, softened from cooking in tasty sauce, and on a great roll. The cheese can either be on the roll or baked on top,

Thus far, the best I have had is at White House Subs in Atlantic City. The homemade meatballs almost crumble from the sauce and pressure of the bite, but a hard/half meatball never falls out of the roll... oh, the magnificent Jersey shore roll. Sacko's in Ventnor is a close second.

In the Philly suburbs, the best I have had is at Rittenhouse Deli in Armore... homemade meatballs, great sauce and consistency, but not quite "the best" and not in the same league as White House and Sackos. Dakota Pizza in Wynnewood has a good meatball parm, with meatballs on the firmer side... the center of the meatball is sometimes too firm and not softened by the sauce... the roll sometimes is too firm/crispy, but a decent sandwich.

Where in the Philly area can you point me for that elusive "great" meatball sandwich?

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  1. Eve's Lunch - Norristown

    1. I agree, there's nothing like a great meatball sandwich. Unfortunately, it's an easy item for places to screw up.

      My favorite is the meatball sandwich at Trios in Folsom. Good consistancy and you can get it on a Sarcone's roll.

      I've heard that Tony Luke's meatballs are good, but I've never tried them myself.

      1. Best I've had...almost. My sister's landlady made the best I ever had, and gave my sister the recipe, which she lost (I've never let her forget it...). I've made these for tons of folks, and immediate demands for the recipe are asked; only for people to balk when they see it. They always take it, leave it around for several months, then finally make it, then get tons of requests for more...and the recipe.
        You can make it three cheese, add veal, and play with the braising medium, but you can't go wrong. These are some of the best I've ever had.

        A16's Italian Meatballs With Tomato & White Wine Braise
        Article Launched:02/06/2006 05:41:00 PM PST
        10 ounces ground pork
        10 ounces ground beef
        4 ounces ground prosciutto (roughly chop a 4-ounce piece of prosciutto _ ends work well _ and grind in food processor)
        2 teaspoons salt
        1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
        1 teaspoon fennel seeds
        1 tablespoon dried oregano
        1/2 onion, finely diced
        1 garlic clove, minced
        1/4 bunch fresh parsley, minced
        3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
        1/2 pound good-quality Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed
        2/3 cup ricotta cheese
        1/4 cup milk
        3 eggs
        2 tablespoons olive oil
        1 onion, chopped
        1 carrot, coarsely chopped
        1 bay leaf
        3/4 cup white wine
        1 quart pureed tomatoes
        1 cup chicken stock
        1/2 bunch fresh basil, coarsely chopped
        2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
        Salt and pepper to taste
        Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
        Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
        For Meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, beef and prosciutto by hand and season generously with salt, pepper flakes, fennel seeds and
        oregano. Add onion, garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese and mix by hand. Put bread cubes in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Add bread crumbs, ricotta and milk to meat mixture and continue to mix by hand. Add eggs, stirring until barely incorporated (do not overmix).
        Form mixture into about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch balls and place in an oiled roasting pan. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven about 15 minutes, until browned. When done, remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
        For Braising Liquid: Meanwhile, in a large, ovenproof saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion, carrot and bay leaf and cook until carrot is softened and onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine, then add tomatoes, stock, basil and oregano. Heat 5 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
        Drain fat off meatballs and pour braising liquid over them (they should barely be covered). Bake meatballs at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Allow to cool in braising liquid. Skim off excess fat.
        To serve, reheat meatballs in braising liquid, finishing the dish with Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Makes 6 servings.
        NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 680 calories; 43 grams protein; 44 grams carbohydrate; 36 grams fat (14 grams saturated); 204 milligrams cholesterol; 2,516 milligrams sodium; 6 grams fiber.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jabof72

          Jabof, this is the very next thing I'm gonna cook.

          1. re: jabof72

            made these this weekend - they are amazing, although there was not much liquid left after 1 hr, so I added more to finish cooking...

          2. Are you near a Trader Joe's? They have great meatballs - just the kind you describe.
            My husband is a great cook, but now often buys TJ's meatballs and a jar of one of their good sauces. I love making a meatball sandwich the next day, but you don't have to wait - heat them in the sauce (they're frozen), put them in good bread, and eat away!

            1. I like the meatball sandwiches at Pepinella's in Cheltenham. It's a tiny, little known shop on Central Ave., but everything I've had there is great. They use Sarcone's rolls. I'm pretty sure the meatballs are homemade. I haven't tried a lot of the Center City offerings, so I can't say whether it is worth a trip, but definitely great for around here. They also do a mean hoagie.

              1. Pica's in Upper Darby on West Chester Pike. A Cut Above Deli on West Chester Pike in Newtown Square. Soprano's in Broomall on West Chester Pike. You can't go wrong at any of these.

                4 Replies
                1. re: cheesewit

                  My standards are high -- my late, sainted grandmother made a great meatball. Nevertheless, I have found the Wawa meatball shortie -- provolone and sweet peppers, black pepper and oregano -- to be a satisfying sandwich.
                  Let the flaming begin.

                  1. re: cheesewit

                    Chessewit, I was going to mention Soprano's as well. They are very good and you can order them separately if you like. My favorite has to be Vinny's Place (formerly Hoagie Hut) in Media. I get their tuna salad for lunch, and then because I cannot help it, I get the meatball w/provi hoagie as a late afternoon snack.

                    1. re: cheesewit

                      Damn, and I was just at A Cut Above today! Had my usual, "Cut Above Italian" oil and sweet peppers. Love their Roast Beef sandwiches also. Will have to try their Meatball sammich next time, then go down the street and order one from Sopranos and do a good old fashioned taste off!

                      1. re: Rondo

                        Their roast pork sandwiches are among the best in the area.

                    2. I live near the italian market, and can get a great meatball sandwich here, unfortunately it requires three stops:
                      meatballs & sauce from superior pasta
                      provolone from claudios
                      bread from sarcones

                      1. i'm a born and raised south philly girl and my favie meatball sandwich is sacko's. if you find one that compares in philly call me. for now, my real favorite will always be my mom-mom's...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mazza3

                          I can't imagine any of the Philly-area meatball sandwiches compare to Sacko's... I'll be trying out the recommendations tough...

                        2. Good lord, people.

                          Number one - Shank & Evelyn's.

                          Number two - Chickie's.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: coolgeek

                            Antonella's in Rosemont also makes great meatballs.

                            1. re: waynefoodie

                              On this recommendation I went to Antonellas for lunch today. The meatball sandwich was barely warm, but otherwise it was ok. The roll was excellent. - Max

                              1. re: Max Buten

                                johns roast pork and chickies deli makes a good meatball sandwich. You can also buy some meatballs from villa di roma and make your own sandwich at home. The meatball sandwich at white house is #1.

                                1. re: fan4food

                                  Best Semi-Homemade= Maglio fresh meatballs in meat case(not frozen) (found only at Superfresh- try Columbus Blvd) and La Rosa pasta Sauce (in blue can). Less veal taste than P&S (frozen) - and cheaper because of that. Best prepared Meatballs ever bought in a store.