The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Huge, handsome and hip, That Meetball Place in Patchogue is a study in wood, brick and iron. High ceilings, a high decibel level and a high-top communal table amp up the vibe. Even the name of the place is a play on words: You go there to meet, have a ball and eat meatballs. All kinds, served in any number of ways.
On a recent evening, when the place reverberated with loud music and shouted conversation, I began dinner with two meatball sliders ($3 each). One was a ball of fire, made with ground pork, chorizo and black beans. Mildly spicy, but not incendiary, and pleasingly moist, it paired nicely with a bright marinara sauce.
The other, a seafood ball made with shrimp, cod, carrots and peppers, was more of a well-seasoned fish croquette than a real meatball; a pesto sauce, judiciously dabbed on, worked well. The only off note was a salad called Brooklyn born burrata ($14) in which a perfectly lovely slab of fresh, creamy mozzarella met up with way too many items grilled artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, tomatoes, roasted peppers, bacon and extra-virgin olive oil the whole thing drowning in rather than drizzled with a syrupy-sweet balsamic vinegar.
In marked contrast was a very good main course of plush, garlicky classic meatballs (beef, pork and veal) over fresh al dente rigatoni in a spicy marinara sauce ($14).
That Meetball Place is at 54 W. Main St., Patchogue, 631-569-5888, thatmeetballplaceli.com.