Please note: a free meal was provided in exchange for this review.
I think I found my new favorite spot.
Last week, I finally gave Meatball Hero & Pasta a try. If you’re keeping track, it’s the second Chicago restaurant to have a meatball theme. However, the other meatball restaurant in question, Mondo Meatball, didn’t stand the test of time. It seems like a lot of restaurants and bars in Wicker Park (like one of my favorites, Bom Bolla) are experiencing this quick turnover. Restauranteurs – take note.
But on to more positive things.
Chef Atif Ali is the mastermind behind this meatball masterpiece. His chef resume includes a stint at Bombay Wraps and even Balena. Ali picked the perfect spot to set up shop (3037 N Clark St) – at an intersection near Boystown, Wrigleyville, and Lakeview. If you can’t make it in – no problem. Meatball Hero and Pasta also offers delivery!
But what really sets this restaurant apart isn’t the meatball concept, it’s the fact that everything is made in-house, a concept known as a “scratch kitchen.” Every morning, Ali prepares his bread, pasta and meatballs fresh, from scratch. It may not be the lightest fare in the world, but you can take solace in the fact that nothing is pre-packaged or processed.
Recipes are simple and reminiscent of what and old Italian grandma would prepare.
The meatball subs come in a couple distinctive flavors. The Red Hero is more or less what you’d expect – a classic meatball sub with beef meatballs, marinara sauce, and smoked mozzarella (also made in-house!). The Winged Hero is the chicken take on this classic, and there’s also a seafood and vegetarian option.
The subs are anything but standard with housemade bread, meatballs, and cheese, but what I really loved is how easy they were to hold without making a mess. Chef Atif Ali hollows out the inside and puts the ingredients directly inside, without cutting two halves.
If you’d rather eat your meatballs and carbs in the form of a pasta meal, there’s an option for that too! I fell in love with the fettuccine alfredo – it was the perfect creamy texture.
And if you still have room, I tried the polenta fries and mushroom risotto balls (like arancini). I can personally vouch for how satisfying they both were – ask for the chef’s homemade ranch sauce to go with the fries.
Meatball Hero and Pasta also has salads, but c’mon… live a little. This is definitely your spot for a cheat day meal.
Come in for National Meatball Day on March 9th. There will be free meatball samples, and BOGO offers on all hero sandwiches. It’s the perfect time to give this place a try and max out on all the benefits! If you can’t make it, definitely stop by sometime soon for lunch – they have an awesome $2.99 special that will hit the spot. And if you’re in the mood for a dinner date, Meatball Hero & Pasta is BYOB!
Have you been to Meatball Hero and Pasta yet? Let me know what you think in the comments! Or better yet, invite me with for the next trip… I’m already salivating over the thought of a meatball sub and fettuccine alfredo meal.
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