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Restaurant Review: 8 Ball Meatball

Originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Baltimore magazine

National Meatball Day—yes, there is one of those, too—seemed like the perfect time to visit the Fells Point restaurant that celebrates the round mounds all year long. And, apparently, we weren’t the only ones who thought so. On a spring evening, a pair of out-of-towners glanced at the sidewalk A-frame sign—featuring a chalk-drawn bowl of the namesake comfort food—and decided to give it a try.

Meanwhile, at a table in the spacious main dining and barroom, a group of middle-aged women merrily finished their meals. “You gotta live that meatball life,” said one, sounding particularly pleased. Soon Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman arrived with his wife, Cindy. They saddled up to two stools at a 14-seat marble island table and ordered to go.

At 8 Ball, there is something for everyone. And just to be clear: These aren’t your grandmother’s meatballs. These modern, golf-ball-size takes are better, and will leave your mouth watering until you return. The setup is deceptively simple. There are five main “balls” (get comfortable with the word here; it’s even on the bathroom doors —“Balls” for the men’s room; “No Balls” . . . you get the drift) that comprise the mix-and-match offerings, along with six sauces, including mushroom gravy and tomato.

Assisted by our waiter, we went with the classic meatball (with tomato sauce), the spicy pork (with Parmesan cream), and the Greek lamb (with pesto) on brioche sliders ($3 each). The Parmesan cream paired well with the spicy pork, and all were flavorful and juicy through each bite. Other options include a bowl of four ($9) with focaccia and freshly grated cheese, a meatball artisan sub ($12), a meatball “salad” ($12), plus sides like risotto and roasted vegetables ($6 each).

Delicious fare aside, this is a place you can hang out. The decor is industrial, with exposed brick on one end and detailed tile touches. The bar, where we sat nearby, and a more intimate dining area seats upward of 25 off the main space. Dinner and lunch are the primary focus (with a daily happy hour that includes beer, wine, and cocktails), as well as a weekend brunch. Can every day be National Meatball Day? It sure is here.

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