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Best of New York Food 2004

Best Meatballs

  • Il Gattopardo

    33 West 54th Street, 212-246-0412

    It used to be that the humble Italian-American meatball never went anywhere without its constant companion, spaghetti. Recently, though, thanks to the surge in popularity of a more authentic southern-Italian cooking—or perhaps because of creative differences with its former pasta partner—meatballs have gone solo, assuming leading roles in restaurants from the Rocco DiSpirito–revamped Tuscan to Frank DeCarlo’s Peasant spinoff, Ápizz. Our award, however, goes to the unimpeachably authentic Neapolitan version at Il Gattopardo. Made from veal and beef and wrapped in an almost translucent Savoy-cabbage leaf that seals in the juices and makes for cute little bundles that resemble Shanghai dumplings, they’re much lighter than their Americanized cousins, airiness being the mark of a good meatball. Salerno-born chef Vito Gnazzo serves them three to an order as an appetizer on a bed of baby greens with a fragrant thyme-white-wine sauce—one bite and you’ll never think of them as spaghetti’s sidekick again. .

From the 2004 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine