Polpette di Vitello ($13)
For the most concentrated meatball fix, have an appetizer order of the polpette di vitello. Pictured here is a colossal portion—usually the restaurant serves four per order. Whether or not they're the absolute best in the city, they're certainly up there: light, salty, and simple. There's nothing too fancy about these meatballs, and that's how they're meant to be; Arapia told us that when it comes to her recipe, she works under a "less is more" philosophy. You have a choice between sweet and spicy (which isn't super hot, just spicy enough to add a pleasant heat to the dish).
Polpette Pizza ($17)
With prize winning meatballs, the logical next step is to put them on a pizza. After braising in their sauce, they get sliced and go onto a Neapolitan-style pie along with tomatoes, caciocavallo cheese, basil, and a sprinkling of Pecorino. The sliced meatballs soften a bit after being sliced and cooked again on the pie, making for a truly great pie.
Meatball Sandwich ($12)
Plate of meatballs and meatball pizza not cutting it for you? During lunch service at Donatella you can order a meatball sandwich, which features the veal meatballs, tomato sauce, arugula, smoked mozzarella, and a hint of chili oil. The bread is actually a saltimbocca made from the same dough as the pie crust, making for a thin yet sturdy encasement.
No meatballs here, but this rotolino—an elongated pizza roll—was one of our favorite items at Donatella. Sliced into bite size pieces, they're little finger sized pizza bites. These contained eggplant, ricotta and tomato.
Donatella is nine months pregnant as of this writing, so her newest little polpette should be on his or her way any day now...
Executive chef Appell is the man who developed the famous meatball recipe with Arapia, and who is most often working the flashiest oven in town.
It may be in the back of the restaurant, but Donatella's gold tiled pizza oven is very, very hard to miss.