There has been an emerging trend in Toronto food culture of restaurants popping open that specialize in one things: various grilled cheese restaurants like Cheesewerks or The Grilled Cheese, the specialty sausage restaurant Wrvst and Hey Meatball, which specializes in nothing but, you guessed it, meatballs.
Of course, as someone dating an Italian, we needed to check out this place and compare the meatballs to the ones Nonna makes.
Located in the heart of Little Italy, Hey Meatball has to be good. All the ingredients used are farm sourced from within a 100-mile radius and everything is all natural. All the pasta used is made daily – this kind of quality would be hard to find in most traditional Italian homes.
The restaurant is open concept with a great view of the kitchen. In the kitchen the cooks are dancing, singing and joking – it is like that scene out of The Big Chill. You can see all the meatballs being ground and rolled fresh to order. The tables and chairs are a mismatch of styles and sizes, as if you are sitting down to a huge family dinner at someone’s house and chairs have been grabbed from every room of the house.The walls are lined with a combination of bad paint-by-numbers (clearly ironic), photos of old Italian ladies and scenes from Italy. Looking at the walls you can picture this eclectic combination lining the walls of your Nonna’s house.
The menu is everything you would except – meatballs are the main focus but you are able to get them several different ways. I think my favourite thing about the menu is the fact that you can get 3 meatballs with sauce. This is the perfect amount for a snack, and anytime I have the option to have a dinner option as a snack, I’m there.
You order at the counter, they tell you that the meatballs are a pork and beef blend (for all our Kosher, Halal et al. friends out there) give them your name and then take a seat. They’ll call you when it’s ready. Perfect. Why can’t more place operate like this?
I ordered the Mac & Cheese with Pork/Beef meatballs.
The pasta was tender and was cooked perfectly. It was creamy and so cheesy. When my order came up, they drizzled olive oil over my mac & cheese – so Italian. Adding olive oil on top of something that traditionally does not have olive oil on it is so Italian, in a good way. The meatballs were juicy and flavourful, and this was all because of the quality of meat not because of anything else that was added in.
I polished this bowl off. It was too good not to finish it all.
GC ordered the Rodfather – named after the owner and chef of Hey Meatball, Rodney Bowers.
GC compared the meatballs on this sandwich to the quality that his Nonna makes. Now that is an endorsement. The sauce was a perfect compliment to the flavour of the meatballs and the pesto rounded out the taste of the whole sandwich. The salad was light and had a nice vinegary flavour, it cleansed the flavour of the sandwich perfectly.
Homemade cream sodas to wash everything down. Sweet, rooty, delicious. I love this trend of restaurants now making their own homemade sodas. It kind of make you think that it isn’t quite as bad as having a glass of Coke.
Before we left, we talked to Rod and told him we loved what he was doing here. We gave him the biggest compliment you can give someone who makes meatballs, “These rival Nonna’s.” He told us how an old Italian lady had come into the restaurant to order some meatballs for her son. I’m pretty sure she passed these meatballs off as her own.
Definitely a place to check out as a meat-lover.