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MEATBALLS - LA Dish of the Month (May 2013)

The dish of the month for Los Angeles for May 2013 is Meatballs.*

Here's a link to the vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/899957

The goal is to collectively try as many versions of meatballs as possible during the month of May. All iterations of meatballs are game, from chicken to beef to offals to bulls, and for our Pescetarian friends, even fishballs (or seafood ones) will count as "meat".

So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

Looking forward to seeing what people find.

Thanks again for participating.

(*Here's the thing with the vote, folks. It was a tie between Meatballs and Fish Tacos. 9 to 9. One or two votes for "meatballs" were not tabulated because they were not in all caps. The tie-breaking procedure was invoked and Meatballs ended up being the winner. To make it a bit more palatable to those who backed Fish Tacos, let's include fish and other sea critters in the definition of "meat" for purposes of meatballs.)

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  1. What, exactly, is the tie breaking procedure again?

    3 Replies
      1. Hmm, tempting to do the meatball sub from Subway for nostalgia's sake but I don't think I have the stomach or heart for it...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Porthos

          don't do it. i did it a year or 2 back and threw half of it away.

          1. re: ns1

            Don't be so hasty. Yes, the meatballs in the meatball sub at Subway are pedestrian. But they are meaty and edible. In a toasted bun with provolone and some onion and bell pepper, it makes a hearty sandwich. And it is cheap -- among Subway's lowest priced offerings. Compared with either the salty, skimpy, or slimy nature of Subway's other offerings, it is a good choice if you are stuck there. And many Subways are open 24 hours.

            My favorite meatball? Not close, of course. But it speaks to the wonderfulness of the meatball that even Subway can offer a tolerable hot sandwich with them.

            1. re: nosh

              yeah that's what i thought too and damn did that subway do me wrong. 9/13/09, subway near the Fonda. I'll never forget.

          1. The chicken meatballs at Milo and Olive are so good. They can be eaten as a small plate dish but, even better, they will make a chicken meatball sandwich with yummy sauce and arugala on their pizza bread. Order the meatball sandwich and the pizza dough is shaped into a small baguette and put into the wood burning oven. Nothing better than those chicken meatballs on M&O's homemade pizza bread. BTW, that meatball sandwich is an off-menu dish but they will always prepare it (they have the dough, the meatballs, the greens and the sauce).

            1 Reply
            1. Love love the meatball sub at Dave's in Eagle Rock

              1. Chicken and pork meatballs with marinara sauce at Pizzeria Oritca in Costa Mesa. Lighter because it is mostly chicken but still amazingly moist and flavorful. I'd put it right up there with the awesome meatballs at Sotto and Gjelina.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Porthos

                  you are duke of DOM threads.

                    1. re: JAB

                      Of course. Posted while I waited for my Arthur Avenue sandwich which I'm posting as soon as sandwich becomes DOM. Like the Godmother but more elegant and refined.

                    2. re: Porthos

                      Was just about to recommend these bad boys! They are fantastic. While I like Sotto's pizza more than Ortica's, I have to say I prefer Ortica's meatballs. I could do three orders of those and call it a meal.

                    3. The best I've had are the Meatballs al forno at Pizzeria Mozza.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: wienermobile

                        Ooo, I'd like to try those.... Next time.

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Those meatballs are damn good. However, if you are in Santa Monica, try those chicken meatballs at Milo and Olive. They are definitely as good as Mozza's. Also, Milo and Olive will slap those meatballs on homemade pizza bread and you will have the most delicious meatball sandwich in the history of the world!

                          1. re: maudies5

                            Dang. Maude. You might just have sold me on these chicken meatballs.

                            And they are healthy right ?

                            1. re: kevin

                              They are made of chicken thus I guess they may be a little healthier and not as fatty than pork or beef. They taste great.

                              1. re: maudies5

                                What does one mean by "healthy"?

                                Fat content? Calories?

                                Chicken isn't necessarily healthier or fewer calories than pork. It is possible for ground chicken (eg. dark meat) to have more fat content than ground pork (eg. lean white meat). Also the amount of bread that they put in meatballs alters calorie content and probably most importantly, the size of the meatball. :-)

                            2. re: maudies5

                              nice call, sounds like lunch come tuesday.

                          2. re: wienermobile

                            They are the best I've had in LA in a restaurant.

                            1. re: wienermobile

                              Agree - the meatballs from Pizzeria Mozza are outstanding.

                            2. Yay, my favorite!

                              Anyone who's read me, knows I'm a big fan of Vito (Ocean Park and 28th). One of the main reasons is that meatball. It's an enormous (about 3 inches round) veal meatball - but here's the catch: It's only available on weekends, and not every weekend. Call ahead.

                              The spaghetti and meatballs comes with two, the insider secret is that you can get a half order. But I like to take one home, it's even better the next day.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: yogachik


                                Got to get over there and try that....
                                Three inches?

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    All veal no pork. And it's actually more than 3" circumference. Vito says he'll have it all month on weekends for meatball month for chowhounders.

                                    1. re: yogachik

                                      Dope. I'm so there. You said you can grab them at the bar with a couple of brewskis right ?

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Absolutely - sit at the bar, have a drink and spaghetti with meatballs. So good.

                                          1. re: yogachik

                                            Can you get two or three of those meatballs a la carte without the spaghetti ? I have to cut some of those carbs out.

                                            It's funny that after all these years I never tried Vito's on Ocean Park. They used to always advertise in the BH Courier.

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              I was there last night and they had the meatballs as one of the specials! Yes, you can get it without the spaghetti, or with very little spaghetti, as I did last night (and it was moist, tender, oh so good). I asked Vito why Thursday? He said he's been getting so many phone calls asking if it's meatball night that he's decided to have them every night until the end of the month!

                                              1. re: yogachik

                                                Dope. Yoga chick, please save me a few of those meatballs I only have a few more days left.

                                                1. re: yogachik

                                                  <he's been getting so many phone calls asking if it's meatball night>

                                                  Because of you :).

                                    2. So at least FIVE posters had meatballs today?? Impressive.... I always know to expect Porthos to be on the Johnny on the Spot, never expected the rest of you to be so eager and ready at the gate...... kudos!!

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        If we can get you to participate one of these days I will do the Happy Dance of Nirvava.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Hey I do my best to look out for the DOTM when I go out, but that has been few & far between, as i don't entertain people on an expense account, like some of our more prolific posters ;)

                                          And I make a mean meatball on my own, so I don't order them very frequently....

                                          But I promise I will stay vigilant. Just happy to read everyone else's posts and live vicariously through them....

                                          And I would pay dearly to see that dance.... Might even tip you well....LOL

                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                            Well, next time you "meatball" at home post a pic! Who knows, maybe one of us will drop by ...

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Whaaaat?! I didn't know home cooking was game!

                                                Would have posted this for egg:

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  That looks awesome P!

                                                  What do you call it?

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Just a little pancetta, fennel, and heirloom tomato confit with eggs. Runny yolk of course ;-)

                                                  2. re: Porthos

                                                    Now you're talkin'...

                                                    That looks pretty nice. I can only imagine how it tastes.

                                                  3. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Since you requested it, I made these a few weeks back.....

                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                      Damn, Dirty, those look good.

                                                      I hope Carbone tomorrow night has something that looks as good as that.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Thanks. They are big, Brooklyn style bombers..... In homemade marinara. Still have some in the freezer as we can't eat the whole batch in one sitting.

                                            1. Well, if fish and sea critters count as "meat" for the purposes of these meatballs....

                                              That means gefilte fish are back in it!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: EricDC

                                                If you find a gefilte fish ball, more power to you.

                                                And even more power to you, if you actually eat it.

                                              2. Today's lunch, Meatball QPR challenge, meatball sandwich, Viet style, BMCC, $1.83.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: JAB

                                                  The "grilled beef" one? Or the pork meatball one?

                                                  The grilled beef meatball/patty is my personal favorite.

                                                  1. grilled pork meatballs at Sotto!

                                                    1. How about the beef meatballs at Sapp Coffee Shop. Certainly not my favorite, but interesting and they do work quite well in the boat noodle soup.

                                                      1. Trieu Chau Santa Ana.

                                                        House special noodles which come with duck 2 ways, chicken 2 ways, pork, shrimp, and pork meatballs. Side of fishballs added for you fishball afficianados.

                                                        Probably should be #1 on a top 10 list of best noodle soups in LA that also includes Sapp.

                                                        1. Meatball sandwich from All About the Bread.

                                                          1. How about Bay Cities, in Santa Monica, which I learned about on this board? I tried them, after reading much praise here, and think they are pretty darned good, especially for a deli - not as good as my own, but I've rarely found that.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Wayno

                                                              Bay Cities makes a damn good meatball

                                                            2. had the clam cakes @ littlefork last night (they're basically fishballs right?)

                                                              tartar sauce was good and the texture was right, but too much stuffing for my tastes and not enough clam. Other reviewers are saying that's how it's supposed to taste, so maybe they just didn't work out for me. Need a NE'er to chime in on how they're supposed to taste.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                Traditional clam cakes are more batter than clam, that's just how they are made. They are not supposed to be like crab cakes, with more crab than filler. And if they use fresh clam liquor in the batter instead of milk, they will taste more like clams.

                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                  Ok. I better head off to little fork already.

                                                                2. Gjelina also has some great meatballs. They will do a meatball sandwich in their takeaway shop. Yum!

                                                                  1. Here is a link to LA Weekly's 10 best meatballs in LA. With Sotto coming in at #1.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                                                      Pretty reasonable list actually.

                                                                      I like the caveat at the end.

                                                                      I also think Torihei's meatballs should be in there around top 5 and as high as #2.

                                                                      But overall a pretty agreeable list.

                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                        Mei Long Village and/or Yu Garden deserve a mention for Lion's Head.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          Will try to add a lions head to DOM (SN1's version since it is hand chopped pork and more tasty IMO)...and a takoyaki, and a tsukune, and maybe even the chopped fresh shrimp balls from Little Sheep.

                                                                        1. re: Thor123

                                                                          I had Sotto's pork meatballs this weekend and I agree, they were really damn good. I would have liked them to be bigger (or have more of them - one order include three), but I was also starving at the time, so maybe it was just me.

                                                                      2. All About the Bread
                                                                        Banh Mi Cho Cu

                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                        1. Chiming in as I just had the chicken meatball among almost half of the other offerings at Torihei. What more can be said: Grilled to order chicken meatballs with a tender and moist juicy/fatty interior with just a light smokiness from the charcoal grill; better portion and flavor wise than Hinotori. The tare sauce compliments it well and you honestly can't go to Torihei without ordering it

                                                                          1. Peponis! Peponis! Peponis! Greatest filet meatballs everrrrrr.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                              That's the one in Brentwood, right, just off of Sunset and Barrington ????

                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                Yes! And I spelled it wrong, so it should be Peppones! Peppones! Peppones! :)

                                                                                1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                  Been a while. Need to try the meatballs. Peppones has always reminded me of a more tame Dan Tanas.

                                                                                  1. re: Thor123

                                                                                    "A tame Dan Tanas" Thats a very accurate description!

                                                                            2. The chicken meatballs at Kokekokko, among other skewered things, are one of my favorites in town.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                  haven't been Kevin, but Ill make sure to try it this week or next. Anything in particular to try there?

                                                                              1. Sunday's Supper-

                                                                                Lamb meatballs with fresh mint and basil.
                                                                                Fava Beans, straight from the garden
                                                                                Hand rolled and cut fettucine.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: WileysHungryAgain

                                                                                  Well done! Food porn in it's highest form.

                                                                                2. One of the pitfalls of being a chowhound is that we can go YEARS without visiting a former favorite restaurant.... it's not that you broke up with the restaurant (which does happen), but that there is always something new to try... and you put off the return for 'next time'....

                                                                                  So another good thing about these DOM posts is that that the inspire the return visit... the fact that NO. You just haven't found a meatball as good... or as unique... or as big.

                                                                                  So... We returned to Al Gelato...

                                                                                  Yes. It had been YEARS. I in fact started to chalk up my love for Al Gelato as perhaps being more than a little bit colored by the fact that I would always hit it, AFTER I scored a great deal at the Barneys Annual Sale (Which thanks to a purchase of a home and more casual work environment, I also haven't seen in YEARS...). I knew the sauce was always on the sweet side. The meatball, not exactly the most tender thing in the world... but still... I really liked it...

                                                                                  So when this DOM hit, I knew exactly where I was going...

                                                                                  Not much had changed at Al Gelato... Maybe a little more seating... but the desserts were still huge and the prices a bit more than one would expect... The Meatball was still quite large and the sauce still quite sweet. But the bread was still amazing... crusty, dense, just perfect for soaking up sauce AND standing up against that wonderful meatball.

                                                                                  Now, I love the Japanese Chicken Meatballs at Torihei. I love the shrimp balls at various Dim Sum parlors. But when it comes to meatballs, I can once again affirm Al Gelatos as one of my favorites...

                                                                                  23 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                                                    I forgot to include the photo for Al Gelato's giant meatball...

                                                                                    Also, this month we have had the Meatball Parmesan Sandwich at Normandie Cafe (How could they all anything Parmesan withouth gooey cheese!) and the Meatball Congee at Dim Sum at King Hua... not photo of that because the only photo that would have made it coming out of that lunch was of a bowl licked clean...

                                                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                                                      Is that picture a ravioli in mushroom sauce from Al Gelato ?

                                                                                      It looks real good but for some reason the portion size seems small for Al Gelato, if it is from there. Btw, what's the filling in the ravioli ?

                                                                                      And that reminds me too that I have not visited in years for a meal there.

                                                                                      Sometimes when I am in the area, I merely hit up their gelato.

                                                                                      Thanks for the update.

                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                        It was a special at Al Gelato. Ravioli Stuffed with Portabello Mushrooms topped with their Alfredo Sauce. The picture makes the dish look deceiving small. I'm a big eater, but that dish lasted for 3 meals.

                                                                                        1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                                                                          I see. Thanks.

                                                                                          Yeah, I was wondering because the portions at Al Gelato are always huge. And I guess then your dish of ravioli did look deceptively small.

                                                                                          So it's definitely worth a try ?

                                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                                            Since it was a special that night, I'm not sure how much luck you'll have ordering it. It was very good but a bit one note and that may be another reason why it was a part of 3 meals.

                                                                                    2. re: Dommy

                                                                                      Second times a charm... I hope so... the picture slurped above is from the Ravioli P. got and liked a lot... below is my wonderful meatball and bread...

                                                                                      1. re: Dommy

                                                                                        I was waiting for the Al Gelato meatball to make an appearance in this thread. I haven't had a chance to go there this month, but it definitely deserves to be on the list.

                                                                                        And I'll add that I love the sweet sauce and have never had issues with the tenderness of the Al Gelato meatball.

                                                                                        Hmm, maybe I'll need to make a trip over there this week for an order of gnocchi with a side of meatball -- with bread, of course.

                                                                                        1. re: Jwsel

                                                                                          Yeah... I'm usually not the queen of the obvious, but when I saw it hadn't made it to the post yet... I had to do it! :D

                                                                                          I should note, the meatball is not tough by any stretch of the imagination... it's just quite substantial... not like those mooshy, filler heavy one at so many other italian places...

                                                                                          1. re: Dommy

                                                                                            That reminds me the meatballs were tiny and good but not great at giorgio. It's on special there as most of the dishes are.

                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                              Polipetti at GB are, indeed, great.

                                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                                I think they put everything on the "Specials" list so they can charge you about an ounce of gold for everything......

                                                                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives


                                                                                                  And the old adage does apply with the Specials. If you have to ask the price of the special, they you can't afford it.

                                                                                                  Having said that, why don't restaurants ever list prices with the specials of the evening unless I prod them to tell me the price ?

                                                                                                  Probably because if they did state the price most customers would balk at ordering that particular "special" dish.

                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                    Nail on the head, friend. On all counts!

                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                      <<why don't restaurants ever list prices>>
                                                                                                      Do you mean "list" the prices or "say" the prices, Kevin? Whenever I see/read an actual list of specials there are prices indicated. For a verbal special, of couse there is no written list; however I am finding more, and more, that servers are adding the price to their verbal presentation. Even at the much maligned Giorgio Baldi they give the price of the high ticket items (truffle dishes, lobster) but not all of the appy's and salads. And, meatballs.

                                                                                                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                        I miswrote. You are correct. I meant state the prices with the verbal/oral recitation of the specials by the waiter.

                                                                                                        Interestingly enough, in years past, the specials recitation at GB would go on for minutes on end. Now it seems like they have shortened it.

                                                                                                        Having said all that, it still remains one of my absolute favorite places in town. And the waiters are even more affable and gregarious but still Italian, which is good (I think the old guard of Italian waiters have now left the building).

                                                                                                        Btw, their raviolis are the utter paragons of the genre. And the salad of greens in citrus sauce topped with expertly fried soft shells on special were great.

                                                                                                        Now my stomach is telling me I'm quite hungry again. Also, the off the beaten path location is a winner too.

                                                                                                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                          In my experience, the price of the baked stuffed lobster "special" I ordered one night was most certainly not given. As we realized when we got the bill. My poor husband almost had a heart attack. There's no baked stuffed lobster on earth that was worth the $90 we paid for it......and I'm positive that is exactly why the price wasn't mentioned.....

                                                                                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                            When was that, dirtyw/xtra? It is only in the last 4 years that they started adding prices to the recitation. And I know your supposition that they are trying to "lure you in" by not saying the price is incorrect. It is/was an "old country" feeling on the part of the (now dead) owner that saying the price was impolite, unless asked for.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                              Yes, most of what I have read on the matter stated that in an oral/verbal recitation of specials, prices are never mentioned because it is seen as tacky, rude, or in poor taste. But I think it is worse to get the bill and then get floored with the price of a tiny plate of pasta at $125 (with truffles, natch).

                                                                                                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                                Hahaha!!! I always thought their screen name was dirty WEXTRA olives, I just figured it was a kind of olive I had never heard of. Dirty W extra olives makes so much more sense!!! :)

                                                                                                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                                  Honestly, I can't recall which year it was, but I know for sure Signiore Baldi was still behind the stoves. So extremely possible it was much more than four years ago, as my DH has never had a desire to go back..... As you can imagine....

                                                                                                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                    He died in April 2011, but was convinced - due to the complaints of others like you - to "modernize" the "policy" (even calling it a policy sounds too legit, as it was more of an owner's preference than a policy) about 2 years prior to his death. Even today, I cannot say there is 100% compliance with saying the prices of the expensive items, but I know that is the intention, not to deceive.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                                      I understand your devotion to the place, but cannot help but think that practice had been going on for many years....after all, it's a win-win for the restaurant & the server, not so much for the customer. Hard to believe they would actually discourage up selling the specials.....

                                                                                                2. meatballs at Banh Mi My Tho

                                                                                                  1. Tuna meatballs at AOC last night. Delicious!

                                                                                                    1. I enjoyed the meatball baco at Baco Mercat earlier this month. Three tender meatballs, rather sweet tomato sauce with raisins and pine nuts, yogurt sauce, thinly sliced pickled onions, and arugula top their signature flatbread sandwich. This was my second time trying this baco, and it's their only variety I've tried because I'm a sucker for meatballs :-)

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: chinchi

                                                                                                        Hadn't tried this one yet. Does the meatball have raisins & pine nuts in it, or the sauce? Hard to tell by the writing.....

                                                                                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                          I actually don't recall, but I think they're in the sauce. That said, I zoomed in on my photos but didn't catch any glimpses of raisins or pine nuts.

                                                                                                      2. Rocco's in Topanga Canyon, offers an off the menu item..."The right cross" & it's damn good. 2 Italian sausages,topped with 4 MEATBALLS covered in marinara, grilled onion, grilled bell peppers and melted mozzarella (or provolone) stuffed in a sub style crusty bread. It weighs in at around 2 lbs, so be prepared to share with a buddy and not everyone working at Roccos, knows grandma, in the back will make it, but she's always willing.

                                                                                                        1. Just picked up an order of meatballs al forno from Mozza-2-Go (also a sausage pizza, a Nancy's chopped salad and a budino). All I can say is that it is a good thing I was driving or the meatballs might not have lasted the trip home!

                                                                                                          1. Finished DOM with another right cross from topanga canyons own Rocco's. to go, as promised image

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                                                                              That looks good! Wonder if their store on Sunset will make one of those......

                                                                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                It's a fabulous sannich, meant to be shared with about 4 or 2 and a next day pasta with Italian sausage and meatballs. The sunset branch is not "related" re. business, but is "related" via blood, no matter, if the kitchen will work with you, it's quite easy for any Italian Pie and Sub shop to make. 2 Italian Sausages, 4 meatballs with sause layered on top of meatballs, grilled peppers, grilled onions and best white melty cheese they have. Send it through the salamander for toasty bread. Cut in fourth's (one meat ball and 1/2 Italian Sausage per person is usually good with a split 1/2 antipasta. voila'

                                                                                                            2. angelino pizzeria in NoHo/Toluca Lake

                                                                                                              my goto order here is a cheese pizza + side of meatballs extra sauce

                                                                                                              not the best pizza I've ever had, but pretty damn respectable NY style. their artisan pizzas leave me wanting more....

                                                                                                              meatballs however are quite good. Nice texture + taste. $6/3

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                Beef ? Or pork ?

                                                                                                                Got a website on this one, buddy ?


                                                                                                                1. re: kevin


                                                                                                                  they taste beefy to me, like good classic red sauce italian meatballs.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                    dope sounds good. though i'm not usually in the area, but when i am it's usually for brunch.