We've got meatballs on the mind. These rolled wonders vary in size, composition, texture, price, and quantity, but when you break into a good ball, you just know. With a dollop of cheese on top or a bed of spaghetti below, substantial meatballs can hold up and pass the sneeze test. We refuse to lose our poor meatballs.
As a precaution, we are taking inventory of our favorite meatballs in Miami, so dig in and have a ball -- or ten!
10. Polpette at Primo Trattoria Italiana
Italian food is best served in a neighborhood restaurant that's run by a husband and wife. It's as romantic as that famous Lady and the Tramp scene in which two sets of lips join at the middle of a single spaghetti strand. Primo is one of those places where gnocchi is delicate and hand-rolled and the meatballs are made with amore. The beef meatballs ($6.75) are served piping hot in a garlic-laden pomodoro sauce. If you want your meatballs as more than a starter, add them to any pasta dish.
9. Meatballs at Randazzo's Little Italy
For some big balls and a fuhgeddaboutit philosophy, head to Randazzo's in the Gables. Owner Marc Randazzo has gone from prizefighter to chef at this legit joint. The beefy balls are $8 each for a side, included in the knockout Sunday gravy ($28) with sausage, or if you want to be "healthy," you can order the meatball salad ($14).
8. Meatballs at Lemoni Pizza & Kitchen
For a restaurant that boasts conscious cuisine and serves a plethora of raw and vegan options, it should come as a bit of a surprise that Lemoni handles meatballs ($10) so well. Sure, the place offers meatless alternatives, but the ones made with the real stuff are the real deal -- and they are heavenly -- draped in shaved cheese and torn basil and served with a big piece of crusty bread for dipping.
7. Kobe Meatball at Prime Italian
You know what takes balls? Charging $30 for a meatball. Well, Prime Italian has four massive meatball options. In fact, the whole restaurant was developed around the one-pound Kobe meatball. You can get your Kobe meatball in a salad, topped with bufala ricotta, stuffed with ricotta and sausage, or grilled with polenta, tomato, and Parmesan. For $25, you can also get meatball sliders.
6. Meatball Parmesan at Kings County Pizza & Heroes
If you're holding out for a meatball hero, look no further than Kings County in North Miami Beach. The meatballs here are dense and covered in cheese. You can get them on a pizza or placed on bread for a killer meatball sub ($8.25), or you can try the meatball Parmesan as a dinner entrée with ziti or spaghetti ($11.95).
5. Long Hot Meatball Mozzarella Sandwich at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza
For meatballs with some spice, there's nothing better than this sandwich ($8.95) at the South Florida pizza chain. Meatballs, red sauce, mozzarella cheese, and -- for a kick -- long, hot finger peppers. If you haven't quite mastered the foldable-slice technique, this folded soft focaccia bread allows you to easily get your hands and mouth around it.
4. Meatballs in Sauce at Harry's Pizzeria
Harry's dishes up a trio of moist and light meatballs in a tasty tomato sauce. These balls and the polenta fries are a great way to start your meal before digging into a pie. Pro tip: Dip the fries in this red sauce.
3. Meatballs at Cecconi's Miami Beach
It's surprising, but Cecconi's, in the ultra-plush Soho Beach House, might be the best bang-for-your-buck balls. If you head there during the 4-to-7 happy hour, you can get five meatballs for just $4. They are stellar one-bites with tomatoes, basil, and cheese. If you miss peak hours, they are priced at a still-reasonable $9.
2. Meatballs at Macaluso's Italian Cuisine
Whenever you hear "meatballs" and "Miami" in the same sentence, Macaluso's will undoubtedly be mentioned. This duo of veal meatballs ($16) has been in chef/owner Michael D'Andrea's family for generations. He keeps this recipe close to his heart -- even his kitchen staff isn't permitted to assist him as he prepares the meatballs. They are delicate, and the spoonful of fresh ricotta puts them over the top. If you can't visit for dinner and the verbal menu, head next door to the market for the same meatballs during lunchtime.
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1. Nunni's Homemade Meatballs at Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza
It's hard to topple Macaluso's, but the meatballs at Andiamo ($7.25) share the same familial ties and heap of ricotta but cost half the price. Plus, Nunni's meatballs have the comfort factor, with chunky tomatoes, hunks of unevenly chopped fresh garlic, and a homey flavor that could have come from your own grandmother's kitchen. The recipe actually comes from Philly by way of Sicily. They are not gourmet, but they are delicious.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst