Having jumped the gun on visiting uber-popular Moto Pho Co during its earliest days, I decided to wait a couple months before reviewing One Meatball Place, Moto Pho’s sister restaurant in both mien and conjoined location. On first sight, the space appears more cozy and contained than the pho restaurant to which One Meatball Place attaches, even sharing restroom facilities. The actual layout of the restaurant is relatively small, housing a long bar but only five tables. The combination of exposed brick, light wood accents, and large-screen TVs made for an elegantly simple yet comfortable atmosphere. The window booth in which my friends and I sat took in a draft from the cold night, but the atmosphere was almost sufficient to warm us up.
Three friends accompanied me on my review, to take better advantage of the impressively large menu. Though One Meatball Place offers 5 kinds of meatballs, 7 sauces, 3 different falafels, etc., the mix-and-match options of the menu lead to infinite-seeming meal combinations. One friend ordered the “red” – roasted red pepper – falafel sandwich with cucumber yogurt sauce and a side of mac and cheese. Two friends chose the two-meatball Amarosa sub with marinara and mozzarella – one opted for classic beef meatballs, while the other went vegan with One Meatball Place’s lentil-heavy version. I myself ordered the falafel platter, featuring all of the shop’s falafel options, with cucumber yogurt sauce and a side of a simple cucumber salad and hummus with pita. Our server, talkative and friendly, enthusiastically informed us on the best flavor combinations – vegan with barbecue sauce, salmon with pesto – and accurately predicted our gigantic order would be out in a snappy ten minutes.
Despite the mind-boggling mix-and-matchability of One Meatball Place’s menu, their focus on simplicity of ingredients often worked for and against the flavor of the meal as a whole. The spicier dishes often commanded the most attention, including the fresh-tasting hummus and the falafel options. I had a difficult time telling the difference between traditional, red, and spicy falafel, but each option was intensely spicy, deeply flavorful, and perfectly creamy-crunchy. In contrast, the “simple” cucumber salad was too simple indeed. An overdose of olive oil and lack of vinegar made the cucumber and red onion combination slimy and without bite. Similarly, the creamy macaroni lacked any definable cheesy flavor, though it was eaten voraciously just the same. The most basic and obvious of our selections, the traditional meatball sub, shone in its simplicity. The tender beef meatballs, straightforward marinara, fresh bread, and oozy mozzarella provided for a satisfying and traditional meal. The other meatballs sampled were not as well received, with the vegan meatballs clocking in as overly lentil-filled and the salmon meatball, paired with a very oily pesto, likened to cat food.
We concluded our meal with the restaurant’s ice cream sandwich dessert offerings, splitting a Chap’s coffee ice cream and homemade chocolate chip pairing as well as a Chap’s vanilla ice cream and peanut butter cookie combo. We sighed over the perfect marriage between creamy and crunchy, cold and warm. Our final bill, despite our hefty ordering and re-ordering, was not quite enough to break a college student’s budget. I’ll still be going to a local dive for my meatball subs, but I’ll definitely check out One Meatball place next time I’m craving Mediterranean flavors at a reasonable price.
Jed says: “Mmm meatballs.”
Rating: Casey: Jed:
Pros: Cozy chic atmosphere, expansive menu, some options (the more Mediterranean) flavorful and inexpensive.
Cons: Inconsistent taste, perhaps overly expansive menu.
Price: $8 and under for the largest sandwiches and platters. Under $10 for a full meal.
Parking: Tricky. Try parking on West Main or in the Moto Pho lot.
Hours: 11:30AM-10:00PM Tue-Sun. Closed Monday.