The Park Slope Gastronome

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Love You Meatballs

I love meatballs. I can't stop eating meatballs. Sometimes they land me in trouble, but for the most part they usually treat me right.

Many years ago, in fact, possibly a decade ago, the CLC and I were eating at a coffee shop on Union Square East, where there is a Children's Place clothing store now. I'm sure she was having chicken in the basket and I was having a cheeseburger. Out of the corner of one our eyes, we spotted a little girl who had a pile of spaghetti and an untoched meatball on her plate. We were totally eye-stalking this kid wondering if she would eat the meatball. Finally the plate was cleared with the perfectly good meatball. The CLC and I were aghast at this blatant waste of a meatball and somehow managed to show some self-control by not stabbing the meaty bally goodness as it passed us by.

Last night we dined at Lil Frankie's in the EV (and I don't mean Extra Virgin, all you Rachael Ray lovers). I had my usual rigatoni with polpettini ragu, while the CLC went with the roast chicken with mashed potatoes made with extra virgin olive oil. To start though, I had the Lil Frankie's salad, which is basically a vegetable plate. In the center is a pile of lightly dressed arugula and paper thin slices of red onion. Surrounding the greens is a medley of deliciousness: boiled new potato halves, cherry tomato gems, sticks of blanched for two seconds zuchinni, ultra thing shavings of fennel, gently steamed broccoli and a couple matchsticks of fontina cheese.

The rigatoni with polpettini at Lil Frankie's is divine. A generous portion of marble-sized, fluffy meatballs bathe in a not too heavy, not too light red sauce. There's not too little of the sauce where you find yourself eating a dry piece of bread, and on the flipside, the pasta is not drowning either. The rigatoni is cooked to al dente perfection, providing enough contrast to the meatballs that you're not just eating mushy foods. Food contrast is really important too me and pasta can sometimes be a dangerous choice. It's really never the case here, because I've never had a poorly cooked meal where pasta has been the base. A few weeks earlier we had dined at Max and I ordered a similar dish where instead of polpettini, the pasta was served with sausage and large meatballs. What a disappointment. The sauce seemed old and way too reduced if that's even possible. It was the consistency of tomato paste. And it was also burned.

There are other tempting dishes at Lil Frankie's, including their thin crust, brick oven pizzas, but I find it really difficult to stray from a classic when it's done me right every since time. I nearly deviated when I heard the pasta with vongole special, but the $17.95 charge was more than I wanted to spend.

Perhaps the CLC will chime in about her chicken, with its delicious pan sauce and crock of potatos.



Blogger China-Latina Chowhound said...

Man, was that pan sauce ever delicious. Lots of yummy capers, which were the perfect compliment to my extra virgin olive oil mashies. To be honest, I felt my mashies possibly had a little TOO much EVOO, as Ms. Ray would say, most likely followed by an awkward giggle.

I can't stop thinking about your salad. I'm going to get it with tuna next time as my dinner.

Oh, and my hibiscussy iced tea was divine. This not drinking thing is really working out for me right now.

July 13, 2006 3:53 PM  
Blogger Auto-Reverse said...

Man I miss that diner off Union Square so much! It was so classic. They would let you hang-out there 'yill whenever late night and smoke and drink under your age. And they had a back room where I guess at one time people would rent it out for private parties and it was so wooden and orange.

July 14, 2006 1:47 AM  

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