Meatball Madness – Food Network New York Wine & Food Festival 2010

Meatball Madness – Food Network New York Wine & Food Festival 2010
Winner announced!

The Food & Wine Festival is one of those things that sets the world’s biggest and busiest cities on it’s ear…or mouth! 2010 marks the 3rd annual run of this festival that donates 100 percent of the net proceeds from the string of events directly to benefit the hunger relief organizations Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength. I am told this year that they raised nearly 1 million dollars for food relief. Pretty spectacular. You can read more about the festival by visiting their website.
With more than 100 tasty events happening in 4 days I could see how difficult it would be to plot your eating adventure…unless you are me. Chances are I would probably enjoy every single event and talk about each of them for years and years to come. But I am a busy mofo and I have to pick and choose. I narrowed it down to only 2 events, the first of which is “San Pellegrino’s Meatball Madness presented by hosted by Giada De Laurentiis” (the other is the Burger Bash but more on that later.)
I LOVE MEATBALLS!! Who doesn’t? So to say I was excited was a gross understatement. I arrived at la.venue, a for rent warehouse event center on the West side, just after the event had kicked off. After a quick check in at the press tent for my pass and a MASSIVE thank you to the super-fantastic folks at Robin Insley Associates for the hook and invite, I charged inside ready to shove hot balls into my mouth. (That’s what she said.)

I took a look at the event map only to realize that there were 44 meatballs being served that evening! I had to catch my breath. How the hell could I possibly eat that many meatballs or even narrow it down to choose? As I scanned the offerings one name kept appearing next to restaurant after restaurant, Pat LaFrieda Meats. Pat and family are the rock stars of the meat scene here in NY and by simply putting their name next to your restaurant, you are guaranteed patrons. That was enough for me! I set off on a mission to try and compare ALL of the LaFrieda made meatballs. I knew that would guarantee that every meatball I ate was in competition to be the winner.

Restaurant name
Meatball served
My thoughts

Let’s go!

Northern Spy Food Co

Northern Heritage Pork Meatball with Marinara and Aged Sheep’s-milk Cheese.
A little sweet but really hardy and with a pepper accent. Great way to start!

Rosi Parmacotto

The most natural tasting meatball. Sauce very subtle. Sauce was equally creamy and subtle.


Veal Ricotta Meatballs with Creamy Polenta.
You can really pick up the taste difference veal makes. Creamy polenta was worth serving on it’s own! The fresh spices tasted like came from a garden only moments before use.

Mia Dona

Meatball Slider on Potato Foccacia with Cacciocavallo Cheese, Regular or Spicy.
Spicy! Heat actually intensifies after the bite slides down your throat. Cheese sauce is light and used very sparingly.


Roasted Veal Meatball with Black Truffle Glaze and Hermes Polenta.
Holy Moses! of course the meatball that’s practically named after me is amazing. Really deceiving the way its spiced. The polenta had a real down home comfort food goodness.

A Voce

Ricotta Filled Meatballs with Calabrian Chili and Fennel.
Cheese lovers rejoice!! This one will knock your block off. Real beef flavor, great spices. Light sauce compliments and leaves breathing room.

Porter House New York

Sicilian Meatball with Pinenuts & Raisins.
Nothing wrong with a classic. This is he meatball your Grandma fed your parents and they now feed you. Didn’t taste the raisins and although the potato roll is one of the best, totally unnecessary.


The “Naked” Ravioli Meatball with Spaghetti Squash.
They ran out so I did not get to sample.

Bar & Pizzeria

Pepperoni Meatball
Oh my! That’s one intense meatball! You could order this on a pizza and hit two hunger birds with one ball!

Giada De Laurent

Meatballs La Pizzaiola served with Tomato-Basil Sauce.
Smaller sized meatball than most. Good taste but a little standard. I mean you wouldn’t be mad if you got it but after tasting all these other meatballs, you would understand.Winner!

The Meatball Shop

Spicy Pork Meatball with Spicy Sauce
This is one of 2 non-LaFrieda meatballs I ate. The Meatball Shop absolutely rules and is my absolute favorite place to eat when drunk. I probably go once or twice a month and have practically become part of the restaurant’s decor. The Spicy Pork / Spicy Sauce comb is a must upon every visit to the restaurant and that is exactly why they chose to serve it at the penultimate meatball party. Read an in depth review of the Meatball Shop on Burger Conquest.

I Trulli

Wrapped in Pork Belly
This was the juiciest one so far. A very succulent meatball done in a very classic way. Great use of cheese. Mmmmmnn nummy.

Verde (Last year’s winners)

Lamb Meatball Sliders with Caprino and Pickled Cucumber.Really coarse meatballs which causes the flavor to have an impact like a punch in the jaw. There’s a reason they won last year. Yowza!

di Vino

ADV Meatballs
don’t know what “ADV” stands for but I might take a stab with a delicious very! (I’m not serious, I know it’s the initials of the restaurant.) Big and thick meatball cooked in onions and peppers. A little chewy but nice flavor. (Sorry, I forgot to get a picture of this one.)

Gastronomia Italiana
Meatball Fingers
This wonder of meatball mystery is covered with a Foccacia Crust and stuffed with Prosciutto di Parma. This is the meatball that did me in! Truly awesome and not simple in anyway. This is a meatball for meatball nerds!

As much as I wanted to devour every other meatball offering in the room, my insides were having a full on protest. As the meatballs began to disappear and the evening began to wind up, it was time to announce a winner of the best meatball. Each patron of the event was given one wooden token from Eater for you to place in a plastic bin at each restaurant’s table, thus placing your vote. It was without a doubt a ridiculously hard decision to make because not one of them was bad. In fact, I thought for a moment that I had died and gone to meatball heaven!

It was the moment of truth, the crowning of the meatball champ. The votes were in, the judges made their final debates and a winner was named…

Check out this fantastic video and photo from WorldRedEye

We’re they good? Most definitely. There is no way you could have possibly eaten them and not thought they were fantastic. But who did I vote for? You can probably guess this one.

They were robbed. Every time I walked by their stand it was rammed packed with hungry eaters. Most of the competition here came from fancy restaurants with acclaimed, popular chefs who took one small item of their menus and specially made it for Meatball Madness. The Meatball Shop is more like the rock and roll band at a jazz concert and they were there to server the only thing they serve in their restaurant, meatballs. If you have eaten there, you agree with me, their meatballs are no freaking joke. If you don’t agree, I suggest you take your tongue to the doctor to be tested as it might be dead!

I thought for a moment about starting a micro site off this one called Meatball Conquest. I even spent some time researching and eating meatballs around NYC. After only a few times meatballing it up around the city, I realized one very important thing sure, I could do a meatball blog and probably never run out of great meatballs in NYC. BUT every single review would end the same way “…but it’s not as good as the Meatball Shop. So just take my word and go get some.

44 artisan meatballs. Each one as unique and different as the last but alas, not one of them went for what I would call the “gold,” a venison meatball. C’mon NYC!! That is a a formal challenge!!

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One Response to Meatball Madness – Food Network New York Wine & Food Festival 2010

  1. Pingback: Bring On the Food Porn, The Food Network NY Wine & Food Festival Is Coming | Burger Conquest

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