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9 Must-Try Meatballs in DC

By Rina Rapuano
November 7, 2013
Photo by: Ovvio Osteria

This city may not have the entrenched Italian culture of places like Boston and Philadelphia, yet Italian meatballs have popped up on an abundance of menus over the past few years - and the trend shows no sign of stopping. Here are nine spots where you can enjoy the comforting magic of the meatball. (They might even pass the nonna test.)

  • Red Apron Butchery

    Chef Nathan Anda’s meatball sandwich garners rave reviews and is one of the most popular items on his menu. The all-pork meatballs are seasoned with soffritto, bread crumbs and Italian herbs and quickly fried before a braising in tomato sauce. It’s all served on a freshly baked sub roll and topped with salsa verde and Grana Padano cheese.

    Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE; 202-524-6807 and Mosaic District, 8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax; 703-676-3550

  • Ovvio Osteria

    This classic meatball appetizer features naturally raised veal, pork and beef blended by chef Chris Watson. They’re then covered in a housemade tomato sauce and accented with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.

    Halstead Sq., 2727 Merrilee Dr., Merrifield; 703-573-2161

  • Casa Luca

    Fiola’s little-brother restaurant, Casa Luca, doesn’t currently have their meatballs on the menu, but they often make appearances as a special. And since the ingredients for the appetizer dubbed polpettine e sugo finto are usually on hand, the kitchen sometimes honors special requests for the dish.

    1099 New York Ave. NW; 202-628-1099

  • Carmine’s

    The family-style Italian eatery known for its gigantic portions makes more than 500 of the beef and veal mixture each day for its dinner main dish. This Penn Quarter outpost of the New York original says these spheres are their No. 1 seller.

    425 Seventh St. NW; 202-737-7770

  • Osteria Marzano

    Chef Carmine Marzano serves two baseball-sized meatballs with spicy tomato sauce and a scoop of ricotta. The Alexandria eatery’s beef-and-pork meatballs are also a good deal at $9 a plate.

    6361 Walker Ln., Suite 140 (Metro Park VI), Alexandria; 703-313-9700

  • Osteria Elisir

    At this downtown Italian spot, chef Enzo Fargione braises his meatballs for six hours before serving them with tomato sauce, sautéed rapini and shaved pecorino pepato cheese. He gives the dish an extra comforting oomph this fall and winter by serving it all over organic polenta.

    427 11th St. NW; 202-546-0088

  • Bibiana

    It’s a treat to order such a soulful red-checkered-tablecloth dish in a dining room so posh, but chef Nick Stefanelli has shown he can create a satisfying meatball as well as he can impress with such elevated dishes as squid-ink spaghetti with crab. His veal and pork meatballs are braised in tomato sauce and accented with slow-roasted polenta and Parmesan.

    1100 New York Ave. NW; 202-216-9550

  • Ardeo + Bardeo

    In this longtime Cleveland Park spot, executive chef Matt Kuhn serves meatballs as a sandwich for brunch and dinner. They are loaded onto focaccia and topped with housemade mozzarella, piperade and tomato-basil aïoli.

    3311 Connecticut Ave.; 202-244-6750

  • NoPa Kitchen + Bar

    Served as an appetizer for both lunch and dinner, chef Greg McCarty gives his meatballs a healthy kick - or at least the appearance of being healthy - by adding sautéed kale to the preparation.

    800 F St. NW; 202-347-4667


Places Mentioned

Ovvio Osteria

Italian • Merrifield

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Casa Luca

Mount Vernon Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostM

Italian • Penn Quarter/Chinatown

Food20 Decor18 Service20 Cost$36
Osteria Marzano

Italian • Franconia

Food- Decor- Service- CostM

Italian • Downtown

Food25 Decor24 Service24 Cost$56
NoPa Kitchen + Bar

American • Penn Quarter/Chinatown

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
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