9 restaurants that roll out meatballs worth traveling for _ mental floss

Let’s face it—meatballs are one of those foods that everyone claims to cook better. Recipe for steak pie in slow cooker Chefs, specialty restaurants, and grandmothers (particularly those you call nonna) all have their own “famous” interpretation of the classic meat-based dish. Recipe for steak pie gordon ramsay For such small morsels, there’s a lot of competition and room for experimentation. Recipe for steak pie with shortcrust pastry But where do you go for standout meatballs to celebrate National Meatball Day on March 9? Whether you’re looking for a traditional take or something with a little more pizzazz, these shops are worth traveling for. Recipe for steak pie jamie oliver 1. Recipe for steak pie with puff pastry THE MEATBALL SHOP // NEW YORK CITY

Meatballs aren’t specific to one culture or region; they’re popular in Sweden, Turkey, Italy, and other countries as standalone meals or ingredients in soup.

Recipe for steak in slow cooker There’s no one way to make or eat a meatball, which is likely where The Meatball Shop got its inspiration to serve up these tiny, savory rounds any way you please. Side dishes for steak kabobs With meatballs as its main base, the New York-based shops feature pick-your-own sauces and toppings along with some specialty creations, such as Thanksgiving meatballs made from turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce. Making steak kabobs So, why is such a simple food so successful? “I compare meatballs to the New York Yankees. Easy steak kabobs They’re classic and they always win,” says co-owner Michael Chernow. Easy marinade for steak kabobs (“Unless the Red Sox win,” adds co-owner Daniel Holzman.) 2. Marinades for steak kabobs IKEA // NATIONWIDE

Purists may scoff at these meaty rounds, but you can’t deny that IKEA has a strong hold on the meatball market. Beef sirloin tip steak recipes crock pot The home goods retailer is as well known for its bookcases as it is its Swedish meatballs, which are served with a side of lingonberry jam, cranberry’s less-tart cousin. Sirloin tip steak thin recipes crock pot In 2015, IKEA stepped up its meatball game by adding specialty options like chicken balls and veggie balls, which come with the added bonus of a lower carbon footprint. Philly cheesesteak stuffed bell peppers recipe You can find IKEA meatballs at locations throughout the U.S., or, if you don’t have the patience to navigate the behemoth store on a crowded Saturday, you can always buy IKEA’s frozen meatballs to nibble at home. Recipe for ribeye steak on the grill 3. Recipe for flank steak on the grill MAMA’S ON THE HILL // ST. Recipe for swiss steak in the oven LOUIS, MISSOURI

The Hill—a St. Recipe for cooking steak in the oven Louis neighborhood featuring some of the city’s best Italian food—is home to some stiff competition when it comes to meatballs. Recipe for flank steak in the oven There are plenty of choices, but for a jumbo meatball, Mama’s on the Hill (formerly Mama Campisi’s) serves up two-pound meatballs with the potential for a free meal if you can finish the first dish. Recipe for skirt steak in the oven Called Mama’s Pasta Challenge, this gargantuan meatball sits 13 inches tall and is nested in 4.5 pounds of spaghetti and marinara. Side dishes for steak fajitas But this St. Easy steak fajitas crock pot Louis establishment isn’t solely known for its giant meatballs—it’s also the supposed origin of toasted ravioli. Easy recipe for steak fajitas Mama’s legend has it that one of its early chefs dropped raw ravioli in hot oil instead of hot water by mistake, unwittingly concocting one of St. Recipe for salmon steaks baked in oven Louis’s famed appetizers. Steak and cheese pie recipe nz 4. Steak and cheese pie recipe PATSY’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT // NEW YORK CITY

The Scognamillo family has been serving up meatballs and other Italian specialties just south of Central Park since 1944. Cooking steak kabobs on the grill The eatery is known for serving celebrities like Al Pacino and Oprah Winfrey, although it was Frank Sinatra’s satisfied endorsement that helped boost Patsy’s popularity in its early days (his favorite dishes were the arugula salad, littleneck clams posillipo, and veal Milanese). Recipe for pork steak in crock pot As for Patsy’s plates, its veal meatballs and spaghetti are the signature item; the dish has been made from the same recipe for three generations of Patsy’s family chefs. Recipe for salisbury steak in crock pot If you’re not in New York City, you can sample these famous meatballs at home with Patsy’s official recipe for mini meatballs. Recipe for round steak in crock pot 5. Recipe for swiss steak in crock pot LAVO // LAS VEGAS

Even the most upscale eateries find it hard to resist the allure of a well-made meatball. Recipe for cube steak in crock pot At LAVO, a chic Italian restaurant at the Venetian, meatballs are made with freshly ground wagyu beef, Italian sausage, and veal and served with either sausage ragu or whipped ricotta cheese—each one weighing a full pound. Recipe for flank steak in crock pot If you choose to replicate your own softball-sized meatball, LAVO chefs suggest minimal mixing to preserve tenderness and keeping an eye on cook time to avoid a dry meatball. Recipe for round steak and mushrooms 6. Recipe for steak and mushroom pie AL JOHNSON’S SWEDISH RESTAURANT AND BUTIK // SISTER BAY, WISCONSIN

While IKEA can provide a taste of the Swedish motherland, Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik offers an immersive experience complete with traditional dress, Swedish meatballs … and goats that roam the restaurant’s sod roof. Recipe for steak and mushroom sauce Al Johnson opened his own restaurant in 1949, but when he met his Swedish wife, Ingert, a decade later, they redesigned the eatery to give customers a full Scandanavian experience. Recipe for steak and mushroom pie with puff pastry Then, in 1973, a friend of the Johnsons put a billy goat named Oscar on the roof as a joke. Recipes for pork steaks cooked in the oven Since then, herds of goats have graced the restaurant’s top, just like the Scandinavian countryside, May through October. Steak taco recipe crock pot 7. Recipes for baking steak in the oven RAO’S // NEW YORK CITY

Many chefs will keep the recipe to their legendary recipes a secret, but not Rao’s. Recipe ideas for steak pieces The tiny, East Harlem restaurant proudly displays its meatball recipe online, but that may have something to do with how impossible it is to get a reservation. Recipe for steak and kidney pie with puff pastry Rao’s first opened in 1896 as saloon, but by the 1970s, it had transformed itself into the most exclusive 10 tables in town. Recipe for scottish steak pie with puff pastry As a way to keep customers happy, Rao’s began a table reservation system that essentially granted permanent reservations to a select few, who share their seats based on the date. Recipe for steak and guinness pie with puff pastry With this system, Rao’s tables are booked year-round, and some loyal patrons have passed their tables down to children and grandchildren. Philly cheesesteak egg rolls bopngrill 8. Steak sandwich jamie oliver 30 minute meals LOPRIORE BROS. Recipe for steak and kidney pie gordon ramsay PASTA BAR // SEATTLE

Pike Place Market is known for its fresh fruit, veggie, and seafood vendors, but the place to stop for west coast meatballs is at LoPriore Bros. Recipe for pepper steak pie filling Pasta Bar, which has served up Sicilian specialties to Seattleites for more than 30 years. Recipe for steak and ale pie jamie oliver Tucked away in a tiny kitchen, the restaurant dishes out savory meatball sandwiches as well as meatballs on the traditional bed of spaghetti. Recipes for steak pieces In a region where fresh seafood reigns supreme, a solid meatball sandwich can feel like a real hidden gem. Recipe for steak and kidney pie with shortcrust pastry 9. Recipe for steak and ale pie with shortcrust pastry CARMINE’S // NEW YORK CITY

Launched in 1990, Carmine’s is the much younger sibling to other famed Italian joints in New York, but the popularity of its meatballs makes up for its relative youth. Recipe steak pie jamie oliver Chefs usually prepare around 500 palm-sized meatballs per day at each of the restaurant’s locations, but for the restaurant’s 25th anniversary in 2015, meatballs were likely cooked around the clock since Carmine’s plated them up for 25 cents a pop. Recipe for steak and ale pie with puff pastry You can mix up the veal and beef balls at home though, using the restaurant’s own recipe. Easy recipes with steak pieces BONUS: THE FERRARA FAMILY MEATBALL MATCH // OMAHA, NEBRASKA

Gorat’s, a Midwestern steakhouse, is known for its own fine fare (and love from patron Warren Buffett), but in 2015 it hosted an all-out meatball-making competition. Chili recipe with steak pieces The Ferrara Family Meatball Match was a showdown between 10 Italian-American siblings over who could make the best meatballs. How to cut skirt steak for tacos Ranging from traditional family recipes to personal creations, each sibling swore by their own meatball making prowess, and in March, Gorat’s invited meatball lovers from the public to sample 1100 meatballs made by the family. Skirt steak tacos marinade Ten of the 11 Ferrara siblings participated, and Rosie Matz (sibling No. Recipe for braising steak in slow cooker 8) won the meatball challenge with her seasoned-bread-crumb-filled fried balls, though youngest brother Joe Ferrara (who came in second) would like a rematch. Recipe for chuck steak in slow cooker We’re guessing the public would support making this meatball match an annual event.

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