A few nights ago I had dinner at The Meatball Factory with a friend. When I heard that this particular restaurant opened a couple of months ago, I initially dismissed it as another meatball restaurant who is chasing the popularity of its antecedent. I don’t normally really crave meatballs but the bone-freezing, windy evening that it was and my friend and I were in the neighborhood, we gave it a try.
We ended up ordering a huge amount since we’re really hungry, hence our spread (seen on the top of this group of photos).
The meatballs ($9 each) we had were Turducken and Cluck, cluck (chicken meatballs) with a sampler of sauces (3 sauces, add $4; The Black Truffle Sauce, Fire Roasted Marinara, Dragon’s Lair (a green curry peanut sauce), Pepper Monkey (Chef Dave Martin’s roasted poblano BBQ sauce)). Our intention is to have the sauces on the side so we can taste the actual meatball.
What I like about The Meatball Factory’s meatballs compared to the other restaurant is the fact that it isn’t as mushy and dense, even though both places source their meats from respectable sources. The Turducken had a good balance of meat turkey, chicken, and duck confit and it has shreds and chunks of meat for texture rather than a purée. The chicken meatballs were obviously lighter in flavor.
Of the sauces, the black truffle sauce was easily a crowd pleaser. Not too rich and it’s packed with truffle flavor. (This particular sauce is also for their mac ‘n cheese.) The marinara was a traditional sauce that paired both meatballs very well. The green curry sauce was interesting (very peanut-ty with a subtle kick of spiciness) but works better with the chicken meatballs. The poblano BBQ sauce was our least favorite but we appreciated the spicier kick than other barbecue sauces.
The “Go Big” poutine ($10) is essentially a poutine (a Quebec, Canada specialty generally consisting of French fries topped with cheese curds and a gravy or sauce) that’s gussied up even more with a choice of their own meatball sauces and a choice of their meatball. We opted for ‘Shroom Central Gravy and Hog Wild meatball pairing. Crazy as it sounds, it is decadent. And that is an understatement. The gooey, melted cheese mixed with the French fries and tomato-based meat sauce – it somehow works and oddly comforting.
The best thing I’ve eaten the entire night was surprisingly not meat based but it was their side dish of roasted Brussels sprouts with maple syrup and red chili sauce ($6). These miniature cabbage heads were perfectly roasted and the addition of sweet maple syrup with traces of heat from the chili made it complex and delicious. Even my friend who doesn’t like vegetables that much liked this dish as much as I do.
Somehow managing to have room for dessert, we had the Hot Tin Roof sundae and Pig Sticks ($6 each). The sundae is a concoction of malted hot fudge, sea salt caramel along with candied nutmeg walnuts over marshmallow gelato. Unfortunately, this sundae was too sweet for the both of us. The caramel wasn’t burnt nor salty enough to be called salted caramel, making this sundae very sweet than desired.
The Pig Sticks fared out better. The Pig Sticks are slices of Nueske’s wild Cherrywood bacon fried until it’s crispy and served with dipping sauces of malted hot fudge and salted caramel. Of the two dipping sauces, the caramel won this time, as it’s cooked until it’s close enough to the burnt stage and it’s slightly salted that it compliments the bacon better than the hot fudge.
Overall, it’s a decent place to have a hearty meal without spending a lot, which explains a lot the about its location being close to NYU. Though the execution of the meal wavered, service was friendly and efficient. If I were to come back again, I would have two orders of their brussels sprouts and any one of their meatballs with truffle sauce.