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10 Amazing Meatballs Around LA

By Lesley Balla
February 14, 2014
Photo by: Lesley Balla

Meatballs: some like them more porky than beefy, others prefer lamb. They can be grilled or sauced, swimming in a pool of marinara and topped with cheese, stuffed into bread or skewered, izakaya-style, and served with a bottle of sake. Maybe they float in soup or rest blissfully in a freshly made corn tortilla. In the wonderful world of meatballs, there are no rules, really. Here are 10 juicy specimens worth seeking out right now.

  • Photo by: Stella Barra

    Stella Barra

    Chef Jeff Mahin definitely knows his way around a pizza - his dough is unique and makes a great base for the fresh, simple ingredients - but the meatballs at both pizzerias are spot-on terrific. Not only are they tender and juicy and the sauce just right, but the little sheet of lardo layered on top kicks these to another level.

    6372 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323-301-4001
    2000 Main St.; 310-396-9250

  • Photo by: Sotto

    Sotto

    Along with blistered pizzas, handmade pastas and other traditional Italian specialties, chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack have perfected the meatball. Here, where you’ll see them on just about every table, they’re grilled and served with pecorino and bitter greens so the porky flavor really shines through.

    9575 W. Pico Blvd.; 310-277-0210

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Loteria Grill

    One of the best uses of Mexican meatballs is on fresh-made corn tortillas with a mild tomato-chipotle sauce, onion and cilantro. Find the albondigas tacos at all LG locations.

    Multiple Locations

  • Photo by: Pizzeria Mozza

    Pizzeria Mozza

    Although the pizzas are the star here, it’s almost impossible to order a few antipasti, including the meatballs. A blend of pork, veal and pancetta, they’re full of flavor, and served simply in a bowl of sauce that they’re cooked in and with a couple of slices of grilled bread. They’re almost a meal unto themselves.

    641 N. Highland Ave.; 323-297-0101

  • Chego

    The 3 PM Meatballs, so named for the story behind them (short version: the base for the meatballs is inspired by the mandu filling he ate as a kid at his parents’ former restaurant), are exactly what you’d expect from Roy Choi. They’re fried and topped with green onions and peppers, fried shallots, sesame and fresh herbs, with a fried polenta patty in the bowl.

    727 N. Broadway; 323-380-8680

  • Photo by: Al Gelato

    Al Gelato

    For 30 years, three generations of the Lisuzzo family have been serving homestyle Italian specialties, from fresh breads and pastries to amazing gelato. The meatballs are almost the size of softballs, draped in a fairly sweet tomato sauce. A plate of those and a salad are just right.

    806 S. Robertson Blvd.; 310-659-8069

  • Honda-Ya

    The izakaya tucked away on the third floor of the Little Tokyo Mall is known for its yakitori specialties, including the chicken meatballs, little bite-size nuggets of juicy chicken and seasonings. You might need more than one skewer. And more beer.

    333 S. Alameda St.; 213-625-1184

  • Photo by: Barbrix

    Barbrix

    There are a few sure things in life: death, taxes and the fact that as soon as you sit down at this Silver Lake wine bar, you order the meatballs right away. The pork and ricotta combination ensures juiciness and flavor, set off by a really good tomato sauce. Bread comes anyway, so you might as well use it to sop up any leftovers on the plate, and then order another round of small plates and vino.

    2442 Hyperion Ave.; 323-662-2442

  • City Tavern

    The meatballs at the new Downtown gastropub and its original Culver City sibling are the perfect beer food, which is a good thing since the beer program here is one of the better in town. The meatballs aren’t drenched in sauce but served plain with a side of sweet, tangy and slightly spicy on the side.

    9739 Culver Blvd.; 310-838-9739
    735 S. Figueroa St.; 213-239-5654

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Gusto

    Vic Casanova’s unfussy trattoria is known for rustic pastas, salads with Italian lettuces and anchovy dressing, and an addictive coconut gelato pie. But the pork meatballs are veritable flavor bombs made with ground pork shoulder, herbs and spices, pan-fried in olive oil cooked slow and low in tomato sauce. The oversized orbs come out with a swipe of ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil. Meatball heaven.

    8432 W. Third St.; 323-782-1778

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Places Mentioned

Sotto

Italian • Pico-Robertson

Food25 Decor20 Service22 Cost$50
 
 
 
Gusto

Italian • Beverly Grove

Food24 Decor17 Service22 Cost$54
 
 
 
Loteria Grill

Mexican • Fairfax

Food21 Decor16 Service18 Cost$25
 
 
 
Loteria Grill

Mexican • Thousand Oaks

Food21 Decor16 Service18 Cost$25
 
 
 
Loteria Grill - Studio City

Mexican • Studio City

Food21 Decor16 Service18 Cost$25
 
 
 
Loteria Grill Hollywood

Mexican • Hollywood

Food21 Decor16 Service18 Cost$25
 
 
 
Pizzeria Mozza

Pizza • Hancock Park

Food26 Decor20 Service21 Cost$41
 
 
 
Food19 Decor19 Service18 Cost$28
 
 
 
Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Honda Ya Japanese Restaurant

Japanese • Downtown

Food24 Decor20 Service19 Cost$42
 
 
 
Barbrix

Mediterranean • Silver Lake

Food23 Decor21 Service22 Cost$42
 
 
 
Stella Barra Pizzeria

Pizza • Hollywood

Food24 Decor22 Service21 Cost$28
 
 
 
Chego!

Chinatown

Food23 Decor12 Service15 Cost$15
 
 
 
 
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