Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Feb 18 2015

Meatballs Roll Into Philly In A Big Way

Philadelphia Restaurants Are Having A Ball With This Comfort Food Trend

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 (Villa di Roma, for starters), Vietnamese pork balls in noodle soup (Vietnam), vegetarian tofu-ball sandwiches (Magic Carpet) and luxuriant rounds of short-rib hand-rolled by celebrity chefs (Barbuzzo). Here’s a look at some of the most memorable meatballs in the region:

Old-School Meatballs:

  • 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 boasts a winning 50-year-old formula with its pan-seared all-beef beauties. 936 S. 9th Street, (215) 592-1295,
  • 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. 944 S. 9th Street, (215) 627-4967; 530 Foundry Road, Norristown, (610) 630-6788; 20 E. Sellers Avenue, Ridley Park, (610) 534-0669,
  • Hand-rolled ground beef and a special blend of seasonings distinguish the two-inch meatballs at Carlino’s Market. Customers can purchase them by the quart in marinara sauce or with a number of different pasta plates. 2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore, (610) 649-4046; 128 West Chester Road, West Chester, (610) 696-3788,
  • The contemporary cuisine at upscale pizza parlor In Riva goes homestyle when it comes to meatballs. Chef Arthur Cavaliere’s richly flavored recipe inspires nostalgia even in customers without an Italian mother. 4116 Ridge Avenue, (215) 438-4848,
  • Mama Mary’s namesake spaghetti platter at Conshohocken’s Stella Blu serves as the backdrop for luscious meatballs made with veal, pork and beef, simmered in homemade marinara. 101 Ford Street, West Conshohocken. (610) 825-7060,

Pedigreed Meatballs:

  • 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. 110 S. 13th Street, (215) 546-9300,
  • The B+V+P stands for beef, pork and veal at neo-red sauce joint Little Nonna’s. The appetizer portion of meatballs arrives at the table stuffed with fontina cheese and served over soft polenta. In entrée form, they’re served with spaghetti and braised pork marinara. 1234 Locust Street, (215) 546-2100,
  • Count on Chef Eli Kulp to put his own stamp on the mighty meatball. At High Street on Market, he dresses up duck meatballs with spicy marinara sauce, liver and onions, young Swiss cheese and charred and pickled long hot peppers. 308 Market Street, (215) 625-0988,
  • Pub & Kitchen’s rendition befits the gastropub’s chic take on English cuisine. Rustic and hearty rabbit meatballs adorn a bed of polenta with green olives and pine nuts. 1946 Lombard Street, (215) 545-0350,
  • The little albondigas or lamb meatballs at Jose Garces’ Spanish eatery Amada are served with shaved manchego cheese and an essential part of the order at this tapas hotspot. 217-219 Chestnut Street, (215) 625-2450,
  • At Blue Bell’s refined Italian restaurant Radice, they’re called bracciolini—and the pork and pecorino ovals are long simmered in a sage-infused tomato sauce for maximum tastiness. 722 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, (610) 272-5700,

On A Roll:

  • 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. 734 S. 9th Street, (215) 922-1717,
  • Tucked inside Smokey Joe’s, Enjay’s Pizza packs its meatballs onto house-baked rolls with marinara sauce, fried onions, pancetta and parmesan cheese. 210 S. 40th Street, (215) 222-0770,
  • The restaurant motto is “Once you try them, you’ll always buy them.” A South Philly stalwart, George’s Sandwich Shop passes its saucy sandwiches through an order window. 900 S. 9th Street, (215) 592-8363

Beyond Beef:

  • Just like grandma or grandpa makes: The takeaway chicken meatballs and tomato gravy at Dad’s Stuffings in South Philadelphia are the stuff(ing) of legend. 1615 W. Ritner Street, (215) 334-1934,
  • Doused in marinara and cheese, the tofu balls (also known as Magic Meatballs) at the Magic Carpet food truck in University City have been feeding happy vegetarians—and everyone else—for decades. 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. 1211 Walnut Street, (215) 238-1833,
  • Built on a firmly Italian foundation, Me N Mo Meatballs and More, trades in traditional sauces and pastas to accompany the main event: meatballs made from spicy pork, lamb, chicken and vegetables. Specials, meanwhile, travel into cross-cultural territory like Hong Kong and Buffalo, New York. 214 South Street, (267) 928-3262,
  • The bucatini and “meatballs” at Midtown Village vegan bar Charlie was a sinner. contain no animal byproducts. Dressed in spicy fra diavolo sauce, they’re just as delicious as the traditional kind. 131 S. 13th Street, (267) 758-5372,
  • Everyone loves meatballs, but Fairmount fixture London Grill devotes 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. 2301 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 978-4545,

A World Of Meatballs:

  • 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. They’re are also available at its University City outpost, Vietnam Cafe. Vietnam, 221 N. 11th Street, (215) 592-1163; Cafe, 816 S. 47th Street, (215) 729-0260,
  • One of the best values in town, the IKEA Swedish meatball plate (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. 2206 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 551-4532; 400 Alan Wood Road, Conshohocken, (610) 834-1520,
  • The meatball banh mi at the seasonal Kung Fu Hoagies truck melds Vietnamese flavors with vegan flair. Layered on top of those tofu meatballs: vegan ham, vegan mayo, fried onions, pickled vegetables and jalapeño. (267) 344-6259,
  • The braised meatballs at Foo Truck derive their “Tiger’s Head” flavor from garlic, ginger, soy sauce and Asian spices. They’re served either in a “foowich” or over a bed of jasmine rice with Napa cabbage. 35th & Market Streets (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday); 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard (Tuesday),
  • Both the meatballs and fish balls at Chinatown’s Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House can be ordered in a number of ways—in hand-drawn or shaved noodle soup; over rice; or in the house special soup. 1022 Race Street, (215) 923-1550,

Meatball Pies:

  • 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. 696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, (610) 444-5600,
  • Ricotta-stuffed 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. 112 S. 13th Street, (215) 732-2400; 3200 Chestnut Street, (215) 823-6897,
  • It’s ideal to be near Christopher’s in Wayne when a meatball craving hits: The pizza here gets dressed up with spicy broccoli rabe, herbed ricotta, sharp provolone and red sauce. 108 N. Wayne Avenue, Wayne, (610) 687-6558,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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