Calendar Datebook Events FOOD ARCHIVES Listings NYC ARCHIVES

The Meatball Shop Opens a New Spot in Chelsea

Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman will now be slinging meatballs around Chelsea at the Meatball Shop‘s newest outpost. The spot on Ninth Avenue has 60 seats, a new cocktail list (including jello shots), and “Underballs,” a first-come first-serve bar in the basement, which serves the full menu and is available for private parties. New to the menu is a Bratwurst Ball made of house-made sausage and a beer-mustard sauce. Rumors suggest that the meatball men will look towards opening an Upper East Side location in the spring. 200 Ninth Ave.

Pie Face, the Australian pie shop, opened its third location in New York on Tuesday near Penn Station. In addition to the regular menu, the Aussie chain added mini quiches to the breakfast options and a self-serve coffee bar. Eight more Pie Faces are expected to open in the U.S. by the end of the year. In the mean time, stop by the new storefront for free samples and a chance to win free pies by spinning a prize wheel until 6 p.m. tonight only in honor of the grand opening. 469 Seventh Ave.

Jennifer Klein of Wine & Roses opened Dakota Bar, a new cocktail bar on the Upper West Side, West Side Rag reported. The menu features pasta bowls, salads, sandwiches, and small plates like shrimp bruschetta, sliders, and mini empanadas. 53 W. 72nd St.

Wise Men is the newest bar on the Bowery, but with no sign the newcomer is easy to miss. According to EV Local, Christina Chin opened the cocktail bar as a nod to her parents who owned a “meat and martini bar” by the same name in Chinatown. The newest incarnation serves upscale bar food like stuffed mushrooms, apple rumaki, and crab toast. The drink list — all are $12 — features mixtures of tequila, gin, Campari, and Fernet. 355 Bowery



6 Spots That Make Last Minute Super Bowl Party Planning Easy

Still haven’t figured out the food situation for your Super Bowl party? Before heading to the bodega for the last bag of Sabor de Soledad (R.I.P. 30 Rock ), enlist the help of some professionals and take out an epic feast of game-time classics. These kitchens are still receiving orders for Sunday but their food supplies are running low — quickly — so make arrangements ASAP. Of course if all else fails, you could always make a move to one of these 18 places.

Here’s our last ditch Super Bowl food guide.

Parm: Before everyone starts making a beeline for Carbone, head to this designer sandwich shop for the works. Ask for the Super Bowl Package and score chicken or meatball heroes, Mario’s lasagna, Sunday salad, and a whole coffee cake. Email

Bon Chon Chicken: Because if you’re ordering wings from anywhere else, you’re doing it wrong. Break away from the sports bar standard Buffalo sauce and order the addictive and sticky spicy soy and garlic chicken. The K-town locale will only acknowledge pre-orders for game day takeout, so call in advance to reserve your wings. 212-308-8810

Chipotle: Guacamole? Check. Chips? Check? A free hand for beer? Check, check. The fast casual Mexican chain will be serving “burritos by the box,” and can be made with meat, vegetarian, or both. Download an order form at or in-house at any location.

The Meatball Shop: Enjoy making ball jokes as much as the owners of this multi-location restaurant do? Great! Order the Bucket ‘O Balls: 25 beef, chicken (including a Super Bowl special buffalo chicken option), pork, or vegetable balls. Visit or any location to place an order.

New York Beverage: Forget the bottles and cans and order a keg from these Bronx-based distributors. Their list boasts over 300 varieties of beer including Domestic, German, English, and Mexican options. Know this: the company delivers on Saturdays, so make space in your fridge (or back porch) until game time. 718-401-7700

Baked by Melissa: Dessert may be a Super Bowl afterthought, but it shouldn’t be forgotten completely. The one-bite cupcakes from this Soho-based brand will offset all the salt you ate earlier in the evening (that’s how a balanced diet works, right?). 49ers fans can order a box of red velvet bites with chocolate frosting and gold dust, while those rooting for the Ravens can score mini chocolate cakes with purple and yellow icing. Or make half orders of both options and see which team gets devoured first.


Watch Meatball Shop Owners Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow Talk About Money For Chase Ink

The Meatball Shop is known for its great food, long waits, and media-savvy owners, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow.

In this commercial the guys step in front of the camera and promote Chase Ink. Now that we know why they chose to enroll with the small business bank account, there’s only one question left: When will the new Chelsea location open?


NYC Chefs Modeling for J. Crew, Uniqlo

Fashion brands like J. Crew and Uniqlo are recruiting NYC chefs as models for their brands, according to the New York Post.

Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien is modeling for Uniqlo, the culinary team behind the Fat Radish is in a new ad for the prepster label Gant, and Michael Chernow of the Meatball Shop is posing for J. Crew.

“We believe that both clothing and food are crucial elements of people’s everyday lives, you can’t really live without either,” Kensuke Suwa, chief marketing officer of Japan-based Uniqlo told the Post.

Creative director Christopher Bastin of Gant cited the parallels between fashion and food “The same care and love goes into artisanal food, like homegrown tomatoes from a rooftop in Brooklyn, as does the finishing of an indigo-dyed Oxford shirt,” he said.


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


Introducing the Meatball Hero, Vietnamese Version, at Thien Huong

The “meat ball baguette” at Chatham Square’s Thien Huong.

The city is undergoing a cheap Vietnamese food renaissance, led by the signature soup pho, and the signature sandwich banh mi, both of which are now available in many neighborhoods outside of Chinatowns. Last week, we reported on an exemplary bowl of pho at Pho 88, a new place in the oldest part of Manhattan’s Chinatown. Today, we examine the banh mi at another newcomer, Thien Huong.

Thien Huong enjoys a sunny south-facing location right on Chatham Square.

Thien Huong is the latest of several banh mi parlors to arrive in Chinatown, following in the footsteps of places like Paris Sandwich and the sainted Saigon Banh Mi — the first place to make its own baguettes.

Thien Huong is garishly decorated in orange and bright green, and dispenses bubble teas and meal-size soups, in addition to the usual eight types of banh mi. A contraption behind the counter is a compact conveyor belt oven, that warms the banh mi just prior to handing them over the counter; it’s a technical advance over the usual static banh mi oven.

Pointedly, the menu doesn’t offer pho. Rather there are a series of rice-noodle-containing soups. The banh mi (“banh mi” is plural for “banh mi”) cost about 50 cents more than at the other places, but the 50 cents is probably worth it, given the superior quantity of pickled vegetables, and slightly longer baguettes.

Our favorite so far is the “spicy meat ball baguette” ($4.50), which has a luxuriant quantity of pale pork meat balls, a kick of pickled (rather than fresh) chilis, and a perfect balance of sweet/meaty/sour/salty. A totally enjoyable sandwich that could compete with the Italian-American meatball heroes of the Meatball Shop, especially if you’re in a mood for a Southeast Asian variation.

Thien Huong
11 Chatham Square

The color combination is a bit hard on the eyes.

Banh mi number one’s three-meat combo. The fatty pork is especially good, though the sausage is not homemade, as it is at Saigon Banh Mi.

Calendar Datebook Events FOOD ARCHIVES Listings NYC ARCHIVES

Say Hello to The Crown Inn, Allswell, The Meatball Shop: West Village Edition

Here are the latest newcomers to New York City’s cutthroat dining scene.

The team behind Stuzzicheria and Pane Panelle bring you Zi’ Pep, a Brooklyn-Italian clubhouse in the East Village.

The Meatball Shop crew is opening its third location in the West Village. Slightly larger than the original in the LES, it comes only months after a Brooklyn outpost.
[Zagat Buzz]

The Crown Inn is the latest by the owners of Dutch Boy Burger and Franklin Park. This Crown Heights beer bar also offers wine on tap and classic cocktails.

A wd~50 alum is in the kitchen at Gwynnett St., serving up New American dishes like beef-rib cap with pickled bone marrow and parsley root, and Amish chicken.

Ex-Spotted Pig chef Nate Smith, who cooked briefly at Dean Street, is now at the helm at new rustic gastropub Allswell, in Williamsburg.

The final expansion for this week comes from the folks at pan-Asian restaurant Shi, in Long Island City. Skinny’s Cantina will offer enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, and ceviches.


This Week’s Specials: Cocktails, Beers, Goat Barbacoa

And now, a look back at what was on the menu here at Fork in the Road this week.

Shot in the dark
Shot in the dark

We rounded up Our 10 Best Cocktails to Drink Now.

Michael Chernow discussed The Meatball Shop Cookbook.

Joshua M. Bernstein, author of Brewed Awakening, recommended five New York beers to try now.

Ever heard of monster fruit? Now you have.

Fork in the Road is more than just a scrappy New York food blog. It’s also 11 other things.

Screw the McRib: Bring back these five discontinued fast-food items.

Could the soup dumplings at Shanghai Asian Cuisine be the best in the city?

Our Man Sietsema put into words what we’re all thinking: Restaurant upselling sucks.

Curious how Forcella Brooklyn compares to the new Manhattan location? So was our own Lauren Shockey.

Make Alex Stupak’s goat barbacoa. You’ll be glad you did.


Michael Chernow on the Meatball Shop – Meatball Factory Rivalry: Interview Part 2

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.


Michael Chernow Reveals His Favorite Recipes From The Meatball Shop Cookbook

Michael Chernow is one half of the duo behind the wildly successful Meatball Shop, located on the Lower East Side. This past summer saw the opening of the shop’s Williamsburg branch, and now Chernow has co-written The Meatball Shop Cookbook along with chef Daniel Holzman and Lauren Deen. But the Meatball Shop almost wasn’t meant to be. Chernow tells us how he and Holzman had originally intended a very different restaurant all together.

So, how did you come up with the meatball concept for a restaurant?

Daniel [Holzman] and I grew up in New York City together. We’ve been best friends since we were 13 and had a dream to open a restaurant together. After high school, I worked in restaurants and Daniel went to California to work. I did front of house and then went to culinary school to put fire under my butt to get going. Then Daniel came back to help launch the restaurant. We had another concept in mind and the meatballs were a side project, but then as we were looking for investors, we cooked them meatballs. Once we saw the action at the table, we decided to hop on the meatball concept and bang out the idea. What we found out was that people love meatballs. They’re accessible; everyone has a meatball story. Ask about their meatball pasts and they’ll have skeletons in the closet.

What was the other concept that you scrapped?

The other concept was more of a Mediterranean one. We had been working in fancier restaurants and wanted to bring a fancy Mediterranean concept to a more casual setting. Instead we took an at-home food and brought it to the restaurant.

Is it hard running a business with your best friend?

There are definitely challenges. But we’ve known each other for 18 years and love each other dearly and fill in the gaps for each other, for sure.

Let’s talk about the book. What should everyone know about making meatballs at home?

The book is really self-explanatory. It makes it really easy for you. I guess the A-Number One tip is don’t intellectualize when cooking. Really have fun with it and don’t overthink it and don’t squeeze your meatballs into a tightly packed ball; roll a fluffy light ball. Having fun is the number-one piece of the puzzle. Lots of people are scared that it’ll taste bad. Unless you’re in pastry, where precision is important, it’s going to be fine.

What are some of the meatballs you’ll find in the book that you can’t get at the restaurant?

We have about 50 meatballs that we rotate at the restaurant. There are always four staples, and then it’s that fifth meatball slot that we rotate. Most that we serve in the restaurant you’ll find in the book. There might be some in the restaurant that aren’t in the book because we wrote it a while ago. But some [meatballs in the book] that are super are the Fightin’ Irish Balls, the Steak ‘n’ Bacon Cheddar Balls, and the Reuben Balls.

What are the most popular types of meatballs ordered at the Meatball Shop?

Statistically, the beef meatballs with tomato sauce in a bowl is the most popular dish. Just classic, naked meatballs of beef with tomato sauce. For a meatball veteran, the chicken meatballs with Parmesan cream sauce over mashed potatoes is incredibly delicious. Or the spicy pork meatballs over polenta. The steak ‘n’ bacon meatballs on a hero is a hangover helper. Me, personally, I’m really healthy, and the food at the Meatball Shop is really healthy. It’s all-natural and there’s nothing in there that’ll kill you. I kind of err on the healthier side. I have a kitchen-sink salad with vegetarian meatballs and pesto sauce.

Have there been any meatball flops?

One that we did early on — the salmon meatballs. Some people loved it; some didn’t love it. When we get three people saying they aren’t stoked with it, we’ll take it off.

You opened an outpost in Brooklyn this summer. What, if anything, is the biggest difference between the two spots?

There are a few differences. When you walk into the shop on Bedford, you’ll know instantly that you’re in the Meatball Shop. One thing you’ll notice is that [the Meatball Shop on] Bedford is double the size of [the one on] Stanton Street. Another difference is that we have a full liquor license with a full cocktail program that we put a lot of energy into. It’s similar to the slider grid in that you choose your mix-in and alcohol. But the energy and service are the same, and lots of fun. We’ve been in restaurants for the longest time and just wanted to create a place where we could hang out with our friends.

Any indication for when the next location will open?

We are definitely getting ready to open our West Village location. It’s at 64 Greenwich Avenue at Perry Street. We’ll open sometime in November. The West Village is a different demographic for us, so we’re hoping to serve younger families.

Check back in tomorrow, when Michael tells us where he’s eating when he’s not chowing down on meatballs.