Top Meatballs in Philadelphia
They come in all types and sizes, but just one shape
(Photo Courtesy Neal Santos)
On top of spaghetti, covered with cheese, tucked into a roll, grilled on a skewer—meatballs in all forms abound in Philadelphia, and not just in South Philly, the city’s largely Italian enclave.
There are traditional Italian versions with gravy (commonly known as tomato sauce), Vietnamese pork balls in noodle soup, vegetarian tofu-ball sandwiches from street vendors and luxuriant rounds of short-rib hand-rolled by celebrity chefs.
Here is a look at some of the most notable meatballs in the region:
Chef Marcie Turney wasn’t content to simply serve regular meatballs at her Mediterranean wine bar Barbuzzo—nope, these short rib and pork shoulder babies are stuffed with melting caciocavallo cheese.
Details: 110 S. 13th Street | 215-546-9300
Named after Chef Marc Vetri’s father, the “homestyle” meatballs served over mashed potatoes at Amis might have been inspired by family, but they taste exactly like a five-star chef made them.
Details: 412 S. 13th Street | 215-732-2647
The little albondigas or lamb meatballs at Jose Garces’s Spanish eatery Amada are served with shaved manchego cheese, and they’re an essential part of the order at this tapas hotspot.
Details: 217-219 Chestnut Street | 215-625-2450
At Blue Bell’s refined new Italian restaurant Radice, they’re called bracciolini—and the pork and pecorino ovals are long simmered in a sage-infused tomato sauce for maximum effect.
Details: 722 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell | 610-272-5700
Repeat winner of the Golden Meatball Challenge between South Philadelphia and South Jersey and Food Network Meatball Wars winner, Italian Market staple Villa di Roma has a winning 50-year-old formula with its pan-seared all-beef beauties.
Details: 936 S. 9th Street | 215-592-1295
The tennis ball-sized beef, veal and pork numbers (or eggplant for vegetarians) at Mamma D’s in Pipersville have drawn customers from across the region. The restaurant also serves its own house-made wine.
Details: 6637 Easton Road, Pipersville | 215-766-9468
Just like grandma or grandpa makes: The takeaway chicken meatballs and tomato gravy at the Dad’s Stuffings store in South Philadelphia are the stuff of legend.
Details: 1615 W. Ritner Street | 215-334-1934
The gigantic home-style orbs at Talluto’s are available to-go at all of the Italian specialty store’s locations, alongside pastas of every variety to be enjoyed at home.
Details: 944 S. 9th Street | 215-627-4967 | 530 Foundry Road, Norristown | 610-630-6788 | 381 MacDade Boulevard, Glenolden | 610-534-0669
On A Roll
Little gravy meatball sliders are a featured item at Queen Village’s Village Belle, where the veal, pork, beef and pecorino creations—first made popular at owner Joey Campanaro’s New York City restaurant Little Owl—are served on homemade garlic buns.
Details: 57 S. Front Street | 215-551-2200
Though the spotlight is usually on Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks, roast pork and roast beef sandwiches, the South Philly mainstay also features a mean meatball hoagie with fresh bread and red gravy.
Details: 39 E. Oregon Avenue | 215-551-5725
With rolls that are the envy of every hoagie shop for miles, Sarcone’s succeeds in making a memorable meatball parm sandwich—and the generous dollops of marinara and mozzarella are just a bonus.
Details: 734 S. 9th Street | 215-922-1717 | 2100 S. Eagle Road, Newtown | 215-860-9500
Juicy meatball sandwiches on Kaiser rolls come wit’ or without provolone at Shank’s Original, which has been dishing out homemade recipes since 1962.
Details: 901 S. Columbus Boulevard | 215-218-4000 | 120 S. 15th Street | 215-629-1093
Doused in marinara and cheese, the tofu balls (also known as Magic Meatballs) at the Magic Carpet truck in University City have been feeding happy vegetarians—and everyone—for decades.
Details: 34th & Walnut Streets; 36th & Spruce Streets | 215-334-0948
With a name like Marabella Meatball Company, the concept is fairly obvious—less so are the dozens of options available at this meatball mecca, where beef, pork, chicken and veggie varieties are among the regular offerings. There are sandwiches and platters, plus mix and match sauces, toppings and pastas.
Details: 1211 Walnut Street | 215-238-1833
Everyone loves meatballs, but Fairmount fixture London Grill has devoted an entire night to them. On Meatball Mondays, a plate of three costs $6, and the changing lineup includes such variations as Moroccan tuna balls with tomato jam, duck meatballs with cherry mostarda and foie gras meatballs.
Details: 2301 Fairmount Avenue | 215-978-4545
A World Of Meatballs
The delectable caraway-studded beef balls in tomato sauce at Moroccan sandwich joint Argan demonstrate that meatballs indeed transcend national borders.
Details: 132 S. 17th Street | 215-568-8354
Whether twirled into vermicelli noodles topped with fish sauce or grilled and wrapped in rice paper, the tiny pork meatballs at Vietnam in Chinatown are a fragrant and satisfying treat. The tasty treats are also available at its University City outpost, Vietnam Café.
Details: Vietnam, 221 N. 11th Street | 215-592-1163 | Café, 816 S. 47th Street | 215-729-0260
The Bulgarian style cumin-scented lamb and beef meatballs at Society Hill hotspot Zahav represent the brilliant fusion of Israeli and Eastern European cuisine.
Details: 237 St. James Place | 215-625-8800
Don’t act like you’ve never been curious. The Ikea Swedish meatball plate (a great value with 15 meatballs served with mashed potatoes, cream sauce and lingonberries for $3.99) is also reputed to be the best version of the famed dish in America.
Details: 2206 S. Columbus Boulevard | 215-551-4532 | 400 Alan Wood Road, Conshohocken | 610-834-1520
They’re a tongue-twister to order, but Soutzoukakia Smyrneika, simply known as beef meatballs in tomato and yogurt sauce, are a must-try item at Cypriot bring-your-own-bottle spot Kanella.
Details: 1001 Spruce Street | 215-922-1773
The luscious brick hearth pies at Sovana Bistro can be embellished with Fran’s Meatballs, a tender beef-pork-veal combo, then draped with Italian hots and shaved pecorino.
Details: 696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square | 610-444-5600
Tiny veal meatballs mingle happily with Claudio’s mozzarella on the Polpettino pizza at wine bar Zavino, making it one of the most popular choices for diners.
Details: 112 S. 13th Street | 215-732-2400