While your mouth is watering over that, I wanted to introduce you to The Downtown Gourmand, Theresa Marie Galido. She’s just entering this big, scary world of food blogging and she figured I’d be a good dining companion to explore the city with. I don’t know where she got that idea, but she got suckered into paying for half of my meal here. She’s in design (which is something my site desperately needs), and we talked about her career, gigs, and how she got into this food writing stuff. Here’s her post.
We started with a few apps – the Simple Salad:
Pretty much a throwaway. The salad accompanying our main course was much better. It was the dressing – just didn’t have a whole lot of flavor. I forget exactly why I didn’t like it right now … should have taken better notes. It doesn’t even look to be the simple salad that’s on their menu (it has radishes, the menu version has apples); maybe they changed it.
The bright spot from the appetizer menu were the White Beans pretending to be mac and cheese.
I’d say the bread crumb crust made this dish, but the beans themselves had a salty smoothness I loved. I think Theresa was being nice to me when she claimed she didn’t want any more of it halfway through the dish – she saw my excitement about it and let me kill the plate.
Now for the balls:
You order with a dry erase marker on a laminate sheet, like in a sushi bar, and I’m totally robbing this from Theresa’s site:
Step 1. Select ala carte, slider, smash (two balls), or hero (three balls)
Step 2. Select your meatball â€“ chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian (made with lentils and walnuts) or special
Step 3. Choose a sauce â€“ classic tomato, spicy beef, parmasean cream, mushroom or special
Step 4. Mozzarella or provolone
We went straight with the recommendation of our server on these four. The first was the Chicken Mushroom.
Disappointed with this one after I tried the chicken and pesto. I don’t know if a cheese might have made it better, but the marsala-like taste just didn’t kill it for me. I wouldn’t order this or suggest anyone bother doing so. Next up; thePork and Parmesan Cream:
Also nothing to write home about, but it was better than the Chicken and Mushroom. I guess I expected something more from the Parmesan Cream than Parmesan Cream. They nailed it, but I wanted more. If I’d put some cracked pepper on this, it might have sent it from good to great. Then there was the Beef and Spicy Meat:
I’m on board with this one. I love meat sauce, and I love meatballs, so why wouldn’t I love them together – they’re like the same species. If you want to share sliders, get one of these each. I would have liked it a bit more spicy, but I’m a big heat guy.
Finally, we had the special – Jambalaya with Pesto:
I like pork and shrimp dumplings. Come on, who am I kidding? I love pork and shrimp dumplings. I also love Jambalaya. For some reason, I just couldn’t wrap my head around this concoction. Too much seafood flavor, not enough sausage flavor. Don’t order this until they figure out how to execute it – because it can be done – this iteration just needs some work.
Forget about all of that – now we come to why you would come here twice: the Chicken Pesto Mozzarella Smash on Brioche:
I wanted to get a cutaway of the burger, so I food-styled the cheese a little but to give it some depth:
Fucking A right. I can’t believe you can get this at 4AM. I now live three blocks away from this place, and due to this fact, more than a few chickens will meet with a cheesy, meatbally death in my clumsy, inebriated hands. I don’t need to describe this shit, just buy it. If you’re walking by this place and you’re not full from eating at Katz’s (because if you’re in the area visiting NYC and have not had Katz’s yet, you need to go there first), stop in and grab this. Thank me in the comments section.
For dessert, we had a few Ginger Snaps and some homemade ice cream: Mint, Creamsicle, and Caramel:
The ginger snap wasn’t going with any of those, but Theresa was dead set on getting that one, and it proved to be a good choice. It was soft and chewy – my mom makes them better. Hers are with crystallized ginger.
I had two left that I couldn’t eat when I was getting off the bus in Boston. I turned around to my bus-mates and asked this girl if she wanted a ginger snap, and I could see it in her eyes that she did, but you don’t accept food from strangers, right? She said no, so I said:
“My mom made this, and it’s the fucking best ginger snap you’ll taste in your entire life.”
She accepted. She loved it. She’s now ruined for all other ginger snaps that come after this one.
OK, so I wanted to get a cookie that actually went well with any of the flavors that we ordered, but I didn’t protest. I wasn’t getting vanilla ice cream to go with the ginger snap (because that’s the only combination I can see working) when our server tells us that there are three ice creams to fucking die for. The creamsicle was a special (Theresa says it was tangerine, she could be right, but we definitely had a Chicken and Mushroom …), but it was my favorite. Mint #2, Caramel #3. Next time, I’m getting the chocolate chip cookie.
And there will be a next time. Even with 15,000 other restaurants to choose from in Manhattan, this one is a redo.
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002