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The Meatball Joint Opens Today: Bernie Matz Does Beer & Balls

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Restaurateur Bernie Matz provides the food at Miami's mecca for literary cafe hounds, Books & Books. So, why is he doing meatballs? We asked this all important question, and the answer made sense. This 30-seater is "all about real, affordable food for locals." The old King Kone place got new floors, a new bar, and a whole new attitude.

Opening on Monday right next to his small Cuban spot, the L.A. Cafe (1570 Alton Road, Miami Beach), The Meatball Joint attempts to appeal to your inner meat beast with a menu allowing for a completely customized sandwich. First off, the balls. Take your pick of the "Classic Italian," which combines beef and pork with parmesan and herbs, the slightly less fattening "South Beach" balls (turkey) or for vegetarians who have balls, but can't take the meat heat, go for the eggplant version ($8 for 4 balls). Sauces can be simple, as in the expected marinara, or a little more epicurean, like "drunken mushrooms" (booze on balls, excellent idea, no?).

You'll need something "under your balls," although, they are happy to serve you "on the side" as well, so the line-up includes a strange array of meatball underpinnings; creamy roasted corn and grits, watercress and pear salad, quinoa tabouleh. You can even base your balls on a bed of traditional spaghetti ($4).

They are also doing sliders ($3 each) and "Sammys," which are 3 balls smashed up with mozzarella and grilled on foccacia ($9). There's micro brews on tap ($5) and a diverse beer selection that offers Florida favorites like Cigar City's Maduro Brown and Key West Sunset Ale, but basics like Sam Adams, Stella and Corona are also available by the bottle. The wine list is fortunately uppity for a meatball shop, with an edited selection of wines from around the globe (from Argentina to New Zealand). We didn't anticipate prosecco and rose as options at a "joint," but we'll take it.

Desserts are classic Americana; look for apple pie, bread pudding and ice cream sandwiches to round out a seriously stoner experience ($5). Have fun playing with puns, and with Bernie's balls.

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