Donatella Arpaia's always been proud of her meatballs, especially since they were crowned with the top honors in last year's Meatball Madness event at the New York Wine and Food Festival. With this year's Meatball Madness just around the corner, and the team from Donatella set to defend their title, we stopped by to see how these heralded meatballs were being put to use on Donatella's current menu.
The exact recipe, of course, is a closely guarded secret. Arpaia started with her mother's recipe for beef and veal meatballs and, working with executive chef Jarett Appell, tweaked it until she hit upon the perfect meatball recipe. The meatballs are all veal, no beef or pork, something that Arpaia says caused a bit of tension with her mother, whose original recipe calls for a combination of veal and beef. Despite their lightness, Arpaia told us that there are no breadcrumbs in the mix. In addition to the appetizer portions of the meatballs, available in sweet or spicy tomato sauce, these meatballs make their way into sandwiches, calzones, and pizzas.
If you aren't headed to the Meatball Madness event, you can always get your hands on these meatballs at Donatella during lunch and dinner. Look for Donatella's meatball cart at the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, as well, serving up meatball sandwiches on homemade focaccia and zeppole to go. The festival runs from 9/15 through 9/25.
Click through the slideshow to see all the iterations of Arpaia's delicious meatballs, in addition to a few other delicious bites we had at Donatella.