Meatball Obsession: On the Frontiers of Meat Ball Merchandising


Hidden under there somewhere is a single beef meatball.

You’d think the city had reached its meatball saturation limit. Following in the footsteps of the Meatball Shop — which itself has sprouted branches — there are plenty of places now willing to make you a premium meatball sub with exemplary cheese on good bread. Someone had to come up with another formula. Now they have.

After delays, Meatball Obsession finally opened yesterday afternoon.

Meatball Obsession (clever to make it sound like a mental illness) is a stall — just a window, really — embedded near the PATH train entrance on the east side of Sixth Avenue just short of 14th Street. Inside is a stove with three variously colored La Creuset Dutch ovens, each filled with meatballs of a single composition: beef, pork sausage, or turkey.

Here’s the fun part: The meatballs in ones, twos, or threes ($4, $7, $10) are deposited in a paper cup, with a sprightly tomato sauce, and your choice of toppings, some free, some requiring an extra $1-per-meatball charge. Plus a dry piece of focaccia you’ll probably end up throwing away.

The idea, I guess, is that you can enjoy a meatball any time you want on a whim, just one meatball, which makes it a snack rather than a full meal. Who ever thought of selling just one meatball before?

The interior of the beef meatball, which gives you some idea of its size and composition. The cup is a normal coffee or soup cup.

The pork sausage meatball with the crispy pasta option

The beef meatball is herby and good, but really, can meatballs get much better? The pork sausage meatball was a disappointment, only because you expect something zesty, and end up with just bland ground pork.

On the pork version I had fried pasta sprinkled on top, the most interesting-sounding topping. It wasn’t so great, but some of the other toppings probably are. The menu is one of those that seem inscrutable at first due to so many options, but you’ll quickly discover which combo you like and stick with it.

Really, I liked this place much better than I expected to. Pocket meatball sandwiches are also available. And that doesn’t mean they just pile the meatballs in your pants pocket!

Meatball Obsession
510 Sixth Avenue