Meatballs seem to be the one of those food items riding a trend lately. Menus are built around it as seen at Soda & Swine and even at Chocolat Creamerie. They’re easy to make but also so easy to screw up if not done well. I received an invitation from BAM Communications who are representing Meatball Cucina so I had to check it out their take on it.
There’s a variety of ways you can take your meatballs at Meatball Cucina: ala carte, on a slider, in a sandwich or alongside pasta. As you’re perusing the menu, complimentary focaccia is offered. It’s delicious and warm but I recommend saving some room for the garlic doughnuts ($3.95).
When the garlic doughnuts arrive at the table, it’s the smell that first hits you — pungent garlic followed by the smell of warm dough. It’s only a doughnut in that dollops of dough are dropped into hot oil, but the garlic, cheese and chopped parsley complete the dish. They’re best eaten hot and fast.
As for the headlining ingredient, there are eight types types of meatballs to choose from: their classic (a blend of pork, veal and beef), chicken, turkey, fish, pork, veal, beef or vegan. To complicate things even more: how to have them. Which kind of sauce? (Ten sauces are on the menu.) On a sandwich or pasta? With a topping or fried egg? (Again, choices are only limited by your imagination.)
One suggestion is to go with the chef’s special ($15.95). The chef choses five meatballs and pairs them with a sauce of their choosing. Add a pasta for an additional $3 (spaghetti, penne or rigatoni) and you have enough food to easily feed two people.
My only qualm with the meatball was the vegan variety. Huge chucks of celery came off on the first bite. I would have preferred small diced vegetables instead. My favorite meatball wasn’t even from the meat family, it was a fish meatball paired with the mushroom sauce. Everything else was unmemorable but not necessarily bad. The spaghetti with the meat sauce was hearty, well-seasoned and not far from what I would make at home. But if you’re considering eating that many meatballs, a better choice would be to go with another sauce considering the entire meal is meat-heavy.
An alternate dish devoid of meatballs is the lobster ravioli ($17.95) with a silky tomato mascarpone sauce. It’s stuffed full of lobster and a solid contender for those who want something else besides meatballs.
The only real disappointment in the meal was the deconstructed cannoli ($6.95). In my head I imagined ingredients of a cannoli artfully arranged on a plate for me to put together. Instead I received an assembled cannoli that looked like it was crushed with a back side of a spoon moments before it was served to me.
Despite its name, Meatball Cucina has something for everyone, including a happy hour which runs every day (even on the weekends) from 4-6 p.m. Meatballs and martinis are half price on Monday, sure to be a boon for downtown employees looking for something to check out early in the week. The restaurant opens at 11:30 am and closes as late as 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
655 West Broadway
San Diego, Ca 92101
*The brunch was courtesy of BAM Communications and Meatball Cucina. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.