The Meatball Shop - it does exactly what it says on the tin. Whether you want them on their own, in a sub, as part of a salad or in the form of mini burgers you'll find a variation to suit your palate at this new Lower East Side (LES) institution. The place itself is a rustic affair, with bare wood fittings, naked light bulbs suspended from the ceiling and old family portraits hung sporadically on the left-hand wall. The seating, which obliges you to get pretty intimate with your neighbours, comes in three forms: as tightly packed tables for two along one side, a long communal table running down the centre of the room and then at the bar behind which is displayed the eatery's wine selection. You'll be taken to your seat (hopefully straight away, although there is often a wait, the length of which is indicated on the restaurant's website) where you'll be confronted with a complex-looking laminated menu on which you are expected to mark with a felt-tip pen which type of meatball you'd like and how (and with what) you want it served. It can be a daunting read but not to worry as there'll be a delightful staff member on hand to help you to come to such a decision. The food, prepared by tattooed, pierced and alternatively coiffed twenty-somethings is as hearty as it is scrumptious and each day brings a new list of specials featured on the blackboard. Finish off, if you can handle it, with an ice cream sandwich: house-made scoops between your choice of cookie. Trust us, once you go, you'll be a 'baller' forever!
Dinner for two without wine: $30
Subway: Second Avenue-Lower East Side-2nd Ave, F line
Smoking area: no
Details: The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton Street, Lower East Side, New York
Tel: +1 2129828895