“How do you like your meatballs?” the waitress innocently asked the guy sitting at the table next to me. “They’re pissing me off,” he growled. “They’re better than my grandmother’s.” Then he stabbed his fork into one of the three tennis-ball–sized orbs in front of him, and silently ate on. I did the same, because, like most everyone who eats here, I had come specifically for the balls, doused in a richly tomatoey sauce with pine nuts, and so good, they don’t need spaghetti. But meatballs are not the end-all of the menu, which does extremely well by other classic Italian-American dishes (like the sausage and peppers), as well as by the items that wouldn’t be considered part of this cuisine (like a luscious kale crostini, with a generous helping of siracha aioli). All is served up by a friendly staff, in a cozy, brick-walled, pressed-tin ceiling joint with few pretensions and even less elbow room. Two notes: Choose seats in the garden out back when the weather’s nice; it has a much less crowded feeling than the interior of the restaurant. And if you’re a light eater, know that they will serve a one-meatball portion, even though it’s not on the menu.
- Pauline Frommer