The Italian-American staple no longer limited to comically big spheres of dried-out beef sitting on an equally comically big mound of under-sauced spaghetti. Chefs are starting to pay attention to their polpette in a new way—braising, charring, grilling, experimenting with different meats—and meatball diversity is at an all-time high across L.A. Below are five of our favorite examples.
Vic Casanova’s meatballs hardly require chewing. Pork as tender as the lightest matzoh ball you’ve ever had sits on a schmear of silky ricotta and gets a finishing touch of sweet tomato sauce and salty pecorino.
Ground pork is ramped up with a whole pantry’s worth of herbs and spices then grilled to a pink-in-the center medium and served atop simply dressed greens with sieved hard-boiled egg. These aren’t your nonna’s meatballs in Sunday gravy.
After being braised in red-wine and tomato sauce, then tossed into the same wood-burning oven that churns out Gjelina’s signature pizzas, each pork meatball is stamped with a small bit of char before it hits your table.
After 120 years in the meatball biz Rao’s lives by a simple truth: Three meats are better than one. The softball-sized masses of ground pork, veal, and beef are pan-fried then gently simmered in marinara sauce.
Sorrento Italian Market
They may not be perfectly seasoned, and they may not be high gastronomy, but you can get a sandwich stuffed crust-to-crust with Sorrento’s all-beef meatballs for $3.95. That may be the highest ball-to-dollar in the city.