222 W. 79th St.; 212-873-0200
There was a time, not so long ago, when sophisticated culinarians did not talk openly about meatballs. Times have changed, thanks to a burgeoning crop of unabashed meatball makers like John LaFemina of Ápizz (who recently wrote a memoir-cookbook called, yes, A Man & His Meatballs) and Andrew Carmellini, whose haute orbs of duck, pork, and foie gras glazed with dried-cherry mostarda at A Voce have done for meatballs what the DB Burger did for hamburgers. Traditionally speaking, though, meatballs are peasant food—a clever means for making something (delicious balls of meat) out of almost nothing (very little meat, lots of stale bread). That’s why we like the rustic Greek ones at Kefi, where they’re soft and airy the way good meatballs ought to be, and come five to an order in an invigorating pool of tomato sauce. Chef Michael Psilakis attributes their cloudlike consistency to the seasoned, crumbled rusks he uses instead of your garden-variety bread crumbs. For additional oomph, he dapples them with fresh herbs, briny green olives, and more whole cloves of roasted garlic than anyone who isn’t a hermit should eat.