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History of Italian Meatballs (Polpettes) to Grandma’s Beef Specialty Today in East Village, New York, NY

Did you know that traditional Italian meatballs are separate main courses that are never served with pasta? In fact pasta is considered a first course and the pairing of pasta with meatballs is actually an American invention. While the Italian meatball may not rival in popularity quite the same way as the American hamburger, it still has a tremendous following across the nation. The definition of a meatball is crushed or ground meat that is shaped into a ball. In Italian meatballs are called polpettes and are typically made from beef or veal and contain ingredients such as garlic, eggs, parsley and in some cases cheese such as Parmigiana. Although most Americans associate meatballs with meat (hence the name meatballs) they can be made from other ingredients including fish or potatoes. In Italy these tasty concoctions are called crocchettes instead of polpettes. Both polpettes and crochettes are traditionally fried or cooked in the oven.

Are Meatballs Italian? Where Did They Come from Originally?

It’s unclear who invented the first meatball, although many people believe that the meatball first originated in Persia where leftover meat was used to make a dish known as Kofta. It is supposed that from Persia the meatball spread throughout the Middle East to China. Some claim that Venetian traders brought the meatball to Europe through trade routes while others believe the Ancient Romans developed a similar recipe and deserve full recognition for the meatballs humble origin!

Different Types & Flavors of Meatballs

Today, the meatball exists all over the world and is made from a variety of meat depending largely on what is readily available. The Chinese version for example is made from pork or fish, while the Middle Eastern and North African version is made from lamb. Swedish meatballs are a smaller version of their Italian cousins and served with cream sauce. Most Americans prefer meatballs made from beef although some cooks will make them from ground turkey. When served in Italy, meatballs are most often fried and eaten as a snack or served as a main course plain without sauce. Some traditional recipes recommend mixing a variety of ingredients into the meat such as chopped salami or mortadella. Other variations of meatballs include placing a small cube of fontina cheese into the middle of each meatball before frying. To make a meal of meatballs, they can be served them with an arugula salad or lightly sautéed vegetables including spinach or Swiss chard. For children’s meals, homemade French fries (patatine fritte) can be served as an accompaniment.

Authentic Italian Cuisine Carefully Crafted & Served Fresh in the East Village, New York, NY

Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe offers authentic Italian foods. Two meatball dishes are featured on our current menu; Grandma’s Beef SpecialtyTraditional Italian meatballs in fresh tomato sauce topped with ricotta and Grandma’s Lamb Specialty roasted lamb meatballs in a fresh rosemary, wild mushroom cornmeal and lemony white wine sauce. For your convenience, in addition to dining in our friendly establishment, Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe also offers takeout and delivery. Simply call or order online during our business hours and we will have your order ready when you are!