Meatball mania hits Philadelphia!
OK, maybe not mania, but there does seem to be a soft rumble in the city for the little round balls of Italian comfort food. Meatballs are making an appearance on menus around town, and Marabella Meatball Co., a quick eats restaurant specializing in meatballs, just opened up in Center City.
Marabella features beef, pork, chicken, and vegetarian meatballs that you can order in a hoagie roll, as sliders, smashed on a round roll, with pasta, or just by themselves in a bowl. Customize your order with a choice of sauce (tomato, marinara, mushroom, or Alfredo), cheese (aged Provolone, Fontina, Piave Vecchio, or Gorgonzola), and toppings (broccoli rabe, spinach, olive tapenade, sun-dried tomato, proscioutto, mortadella, Ricotta, or pesto).
If you don't feel like customizing your meal, choose one of the eight sandwich creations on the menu that Marabella has already dreamed up. A couple of salads are also on the menu.I was curious as to what Marabella's veggie meatballs would be like, suspecting they would be dense and falafel-like, but came away very pleased to see a loose ball of roughly chopped garbanzo beans and broccoli. Yes, broccoli! I just love vegetable sneak attacks.In order to try out a few of the sauces, I ordered three sliders, each with a different sauce — Alfredo, mushroom, and marinara. All of the sauces at Marabella are seasoned well, but take the safe route by skipping aggressive seasonings. You are not going to be hit over the head with garlic or pepper at Marabella.
The mushroom sauce is a base of Alfredo with mushrooms, and when both the mushroom and Alfredo sauces are paired with the veggie balls, the combination comes off as sweet, thanks to the mild sauces and sweet broccoli. For a little contrast in flavors, I'd recommend the bright and acidic marinara with the subtly sweet veggie balls.
Marabella is a great place to indulge in Italian veggie meatballs, as you won't find them at classic red gravy Italian joints in the city. Do note that the veggie meatballs are not vegan.
Marabella Meatball Co.
1211-B Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107