Yesterday we spoke with Michael Chernow, co-owner of the popular Meatball Shop and co-author of the just-published The Meatball Shop Cookbook, who gave us tips for making great meatballs at home. Today he tells us how New York City’s culinary landscape has changed since he grew up here and shares his thoughts about the new Meatball Factory (231 Second Avenue, East Village, 212-260-8015).
So how do you feel about the Meatball Factory getting up on the meatball market?
We welcome them. This is New York City and it’s a big place. We wish them well and hope that they’ll succeed. There’s more than enough room for multiple meatballers.
How would you say you’ve distinguished yourself from the Meatball Factory?
We’re just happy to be at the forefront of meatballs. We opened a few years ago, and it’s been amazing to see people follow suit. We’ve seen meatball concepts open throughout the country, and that’s been really gratifying.
You grew up in New York City. How do you think the culinary landscape has changed?
Obviously chefs are up there on a celebrity platform. That’s really taken shape and the food scene has followed suit. People are eating focused foods as opposed to five-course tasting menus. I’ve just noticed over the years that people are more likely to gravitate towards a meal with more value involved. Do one thing, and do it really well; people are interested in the “best,” be it the best pizza, hot dogs, or meatballs.
Where do you eat when you’re not at the Meatball Shop?
I’m a sushi guy. I love Tomoe Sushi, and I love Takahachi. I love the burger at the Spotted Pig and there’s also a new restaurant in the neighborhood that I love, Betto. That restaurant is very special.
And they make meatballs, too!
Yeah, they do.
OK, so, finally — if you weren’t making meatballs what would you be doing?
I’ve found a real passion in designing restaurants, so I think at this point I’d be consulting and helping people design and decorate their own restaurants.