Is Meatball Obsession an example of too much of a good thing? There are now three different meatball-only (or, at least, meatball-mostly) restaurants for NYC rental apartment residents to choose from below 14th Street in Manhattan. Is that too many, or like other fast food (excuse me, quick service food), will Meatball Obsession prove to be a concept where one can never seem to get enough?
The first, The Meatball Shop, opened just over two years ago in the heart of the Lower East Side party district, and was an instant (and is an ongoing) hit, thanks to its simple concept, its warm, friendly service amidst the hordes and, most important, its excellent meatballs. There are now Meatball Shops in the West Village and in Williamsburg as well.
Such success could not go un-copied, of course, and last fall Top Chef Dave Martin gave residents of East Village rental apartments a new restaurant, The Meatball Factory which, although serving as good or even better meatballs as the Meatball Shop, suffers in comparison, decor- and atmosphere-wise. The Meatball Factory isn’t helped by the kind-of-nowhere location on 14th Street and Second Avenue, either, and Martin has since left, so it remains to be seen how things will play out.
And now we have a THIRD Manhattan meatball eatery, Meatball Obsession, a take-out-only window on a bustling Sixth Avenue block just below 14th Street, launched last week by Daniel “MamaMancini” Mancini. The question is, is three too much… or when it comes meatballs, can you never have enough?
I had an snacky supper at Meatball Obsession last weekend, trying all of Mancini’s meatballs in several of their possible guises and, for the most part, think Meatball Obsession delivers exactly what it promises: first-rate meatballs, made fresh and delivered fast, sold as an on-the-go meal.
Mancini positions his Meatball Obsession as the “Home of the Original Meatball In a Cup”, and I suppose he’s right; I’m not sure there’s been any other meatball-in-a-cup spots in this town, at least that I can remember.
Anyway, here’s how it works at Meatball Obsession: choose your meat (the beef and pork Sausage are both good, flavor- and texture-wise; the turkey less so); choose your “style,” whether in a cup with red sauce and large, soft sticks of vaguely cheesy bread, or as a “pocket sandwich”, which is a good idea in theory, but as (vertically) assembled here, makes it impossible to get toppings, sauce and meat in every bite.
And the toppings are key. I tried the crispy pasta, which added a nice crunch to the proceedings, as well as mini mozzarella cheese “pearls” (nothing too exciting), and, best of all, the “Parma” specialty topping, featuring chewy pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggianno, and fresh shoot-like herbs. It’s all decent, a nice change from grabbing a pizza slice, and a double cup of two meatballs, two bread sticks, and your choice of two regular toppings cost $7 and is plenty filling.
The only dessert on the menu, a two-buck hunk of dense and intensely cinnamon-y Old World Crumb Cake, is easily splittable. Or pop by on your way to work and grab a slab to go! Meatball Obsession is open every day from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. For more information and the complete Meatball Obsession menu, click check our their website.
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