Meatball Mania

If you’re looking for a good hearty meatball, don’t miss these spots.
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Photograph by Marlene Rounds

Is there a more classic, comforting Italian dish than a scratch-made meatball? While meatballs abound in the tri-state, these are five of my favorites.


Razzo

One of the things I love most about the pizza at Razzo is its zesty, bright red tomato sauce. So I’m glad the meatballs get a healthy ladling of it. While they’re hearty (with hints of garlic), the sauce is clean and acidic—the perfect counterpoint. The dish works as an appetizer or a meaty meal for one. 1201 Broadway St., Pendleton, (513) 493-2806

Five on Vine

When you name your meatballs for your Sicilian grandmother, they’d better be good. Fortunately, that’s the case with Anthony Sitek’s standout “Gracie’s Meatballs.” The ample serving of five meatballs—almost floating in a pool of tomato sauce—might shock purists since raisins and pine nuts go into the mix. But the raisins add a welcome sweetness while the pine nuts add crunch to the soft, loose meatballs. Turns out, Grandma was on to something. 1324 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 246-4301

Jeff Ruby’s

Jeff Ruby’s serves the most luxurious meatballs on our list, and we wouldn’t have expected anything less. True to high-end form, these massive meatballs are made from Wagyu beef. But the bed of subtle, cheesy polenta truly sets this dish apart. While they lack the steaks’ renown, these meatballs are the perfect showcase for the deft technique that has come to define Ruby’s restaurants. 505 Vine St., downtown, (513) 784- 1200

Via Vite

At Via Vite, an appetizer of three veal ricotta meatballs comes covered in a creamy, burnt-orange sauce. The color comes from the butter, which lingers on the palate after the initial burst of lemon zest. The meatballs themselves are firm but tender (on account of the veal) with hints of ricotta. A sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano tops this classic, balanced dish. 520 Vine St., downtown, (513) 721-8483

Al-Posto

Al-Posto’s meatballs are relatively simple, served with rich ragu sauce, basil, and a little Parmigiano Reggiano. Like so many other dishes at Al-Posto, this is traditional Italian food done right. At just $12, these hefty, tender meatballs are a great value as well. Or, for $24, you can order them over house-made spaghetti. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 321-2710

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