Miami's Ten Best Meatballs

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Meatballs are so deceptively simple to make: some ground beef, a little egg, and bread crumbs to hold it all together, right? Really good ones also include spices are are left to simmer for hours. Shortcuts are never the answer. In fact, it's best to leave the cooking, along with the Sunday gravy, to Grandma. But if she is too busy playing canasta and golf to cook, here are ten places to get one spicy meatball.

10. The Meatball Joint
Bernie Matz opened the Meatball Joint

only a few weeks ago and it gets our vote for the vast selection of

meatballs it offers. You can get lamb, turkey, or even a vegetarian

option, but we opt for the classic, made with a beef and pork blend ($8

for four), served with a fire-roasted tomato marinara. In other words,

there's a ball for every mouth.

9. Prime Italian
How much

would you pay for a meatball roughly the size of an infant that comes

from some of the finest beef available? Did someone say $30? That's

the price of Prime Italian's

Kobe meatball. It's brick-oven baked, covered with creamy bufala

ricotta and soaked in a rich tomato marinara. Served with garlic bread,

it's an expensive overindulgence. But oh, so good.

8. Barceloneta Spanish Bistro & Mercat
This meatball is something of a curveball (pardon our pun). The albondigas con sepia ($13) at Barceloneta

aren't your everyday meatball "on top of spaghetti, all covered with

cheese." These squid ink meatballs, served with baby cuttlefish and

sofrito, could be the most intriguing meatballs you'll ever eat.

7. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
The pork meatballs at Sugarcane

($12) are a comfort food departure from chef Timon Balloo's usual innovative bites.

The mildly spiced tender balls are served in a crock, accompanied by a

sauce flavored with pine nuts and raisins. It's a happy circumstance that a generous piece of country bread is

served with the dish, perfect for dipping.

6. Randazzo's Little Italy

If you want beautiful food served on fine bone china with a little

swirl of pomegranate compote this is not your place. If, however, you're jonesing for the kind of food Tony Soprano or Frank Sinatra would sit

down to eat, now you're talking. This rich Italian-American food is meant to be eaten with a lot of Chianti in unmarked bottles. The

spaghetti with Sunday gravy ($14) is topped with meatballs made the old

fashioned way -- a little pork, a little veal, a little beef, a little

cheese, a little bread, and a lot of love. It's a staple in every

Italian household and it's done right at Randazzo's.

5. Mangia Mia

food truck specializes in balls. Meat balls, fowl balls, and veggie

balls. The only Miami food truck that serves all-Italian cuisine, Mangia Mia

is celebrating its first anniversary this coming July. We love the

smasher, a pair of balls smooshed between two pieces of garlic bread

($7), but if you're not into carbs, go commando with balls sans bread

for the same price.

4. Sardinia Enoteca
Sardinia's atmosphere

calls for a group of friends enjoying some good wine while dining on

boards of cheese, mounds of pasta, and some good meatballs. The

polpettine ($14) is a tender veal meatball with braised fennel. Like

the rest of the plates at Sardinia, the meatball is light and tender,

leaving you room for several more dishes -- and lots more wine.

3. Tudor House
Tudor House's meatball is so good, we know a friend who orders only them as if they were an

entree. Truth be told, the tender meatball, served in a crock with

grilled rustic bread, could serve as a wonderful lunch. The only problem is that

whenever the meatball arrives, the entire table digs in as if everyone were entitled -- to your meal! Order as a side ($12) or as an entree with spaghetti

($21). Either way, tell your friends to back off and get their own.

2. Harry's Pizzeria

might be the little sibling of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, but

the flavors of this pizza cafe hold their own Harry's meatball

($6), ordered as an appetizer, comes with enough bread for two people to

dip into. A perfectly delicious few bites of meat filled with subtle

spices and cheese are served in a wonderful red sauce. Don't even try to save

your carb allowance for the pizza you've ordered. Just enjoy your meal

and remember that tomorrow's another day.

1. Macaluso's
It probably comes as no surprise that the meatball at Macaluso's

comes in at number one on our list. Chef-owner Michael D'Andrea serves

his beef balls "Staten Island style," in a traditional red sauce that

would make any self-respecting Italian mama proud. If those meatballs

taste a little like home, they should. The recipe has been in D'Andrea's

family for decades. Yo! If the cart ain't broke... fuhgeddiboudit!

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