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Does Carla Pellegrino's Meatball Spot Hit The Spot?

Where: 6605 Las Vegas Boulevard S [map], 89119
November 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM | by | ()

2012 is the new 1977.

Chef Carla Pelligrino may be sporting a Tropicana jacket on the current season of Top Chef, but she's since flown the coop and set-up shop at Town Square. The Meatball Spot is her latest creation, something she's familiar with from her days in Rao's kitchen. That Caesars Palace eatery is known for their meatball, ya see. We may not have liked the balls at Rao's so much, but apparently others do. We didn't hold that against this Spot, though.

Meatball Spot has been open all of a Vegas minute, but already is the latest celebrity photo op as our inbox and the restaurant's Twitter feed have been lighting up almost daily with pics of actress Aimee Teegarden, boxer Zab Judah, MMA fighter Frank Mir, actor Jareb Dauplaise, champion boxer/actor/Broadway star Mike Tyson, and a Pawn Star in various stages of pointing, posing, or eating food. (Click the name to see the pic.)

The Pappagiorgio Pinto pointed its nose toward Town Square in the hopes of finally finding a restaurant in that shopping "mall" worth driving to. Meatball Spot takes over space across from the movie theaters that previously housed the not surprisingly shuttered Nu Sanctuary.

Homage to Gillette Stadium?

The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating with rustic wood tables, including larger communal sized tables. A couple TVs were tuned to sports at the bar and on the patio. The walls are decorated with brick along with white dishes. We suspect the aim to make the place feel like an Italian home... that's decorated with brick and dishes. The atmosphere felt like a slightly upscale pizza joint if we were pinned for an opinion. But, you're here to hear about the service and food we bet.

The Pappagiorgio party was quickly greeted, but once seated it took a bit longer to meet our server than we'd like. Not excruciatingly long, just a tad, but service was spot on helpful and responsive for the remainder of the meal. Maybe, hunger makes us a tad impatient so we'll grade the wait staff with an A- overall. Yelpers (so far) haven't always gotten the pumped up kicks service we did so your mileage may vary.

Our first observation of the menu is that it's limited focused. Meatballs, meatball sandwiches, salads, pizzas and sides finished with gelato, sorbet, ice cream, milk shakes, and ice cream sandwiches. The beer, wine, and cocktail menu caught our eye first and that's exactly where we started. Shocking, we know.

You thought we'd only have one?

Sangria is one of those drinks that's usually either really, really awesome or absolutely horrible. Mojitos are the only other cocktail that's as polarizing for us. But, yet we still seek out the good ones. The waiter recommended the white over the red so that's what we started with. The white is Moscato-based with white and purple grapes drowned in white grape juice and peach schnapps. The Meatball Spot's white sangria was a uniquely (really) sweet sangria that we surprisingly loved, even with it's almost overwhelming sweetness. (Did we mention it's sweet?)

The red sangria consists of fresh strawberries, peaches, lemon juice, peach puree, peach liquer and strawberry liqueur mixed with red wine and chilled overnight. This one definitely was not sweet and nowhere near as memorable as the white. Our server was right: stick to the white and skip the red. Both are listed as $9 on the menu, but we were charged $8. Other specialty cocktails like a Pineapple Upside Down martini or Watermelon Cooler are $11.

Three classic balls with classic sauce topped with mozzarella.

When reviewing the Meatball Spot one must sample the meatballs and that's just what we did. Balls are offered in six varieties (classic, pork, beef, chicken, turkey and vegetarian) plus a daily special. Each serving of three balls comes with choice of five sauces (classic tomato, spicy meat sauce, parmesan cream, pesto and mushroom gravy) plus a daily special and toasted french bread for $6.95. Melted mozzarella, provolone or a fried egg can be added for $1.

The first bite of our classic balls was a little dry, but much like the service quickly improved. The tomato sauce made the dish and proved this was no Rao's meatball. It was better. It was not our favorite ball, though. That award was presented in the form of a tie between the chicken and turkey meatballs: two flavors that were juicy and flavorful; not at all on the dry or tough side like we expected. Because three's a crowd, a fourth bowl of the daily special was ordered, too. Something with chorizo, but otherwise not that memorable.

Next time, we'll try the beef and pork, but our recommendation is to skip the classic and go straight for the chicken or turkey. Yes, it's as counter-intuitive as a white sangria so sweet one expects the Kool-Aid man to break through the brick wall any moment, but trust us on this one.

Sticking with classic.

Since nothing says it's 50 degrees in Vegas like an ice cream sandwich, we closed our meal with not one but two sandwiches ($5.95 each): The Classic (chocolate chip cookies with choice of vanilla bean or chocolate ice cream covered with chocolate chips) and the Peanut Butter Cup (peanut butter cookies with chocolate ice cream and covered with chocolate chips).

Looking to share dessert family style, we attempted to cut into one of the ice cream sandwiches but the sangria must've weakened us. An observant staff member came to our rescue after spotting us whacking the cookie with a spoon to no avail. The journalist in us asked why the cookies weren't freshly baked and warm to which we got an explanation that the cookie would crumble and melt the ice cream creating quite a mess. Plus, the sandwiches were meant to take on the run and enjoy while walking around Town Square in the summer time. We didn't completely buy it; but, if the 'wiches were wickedly good, all would be right in the world of chocolate chips and cookie crumbles.

The peanut butter cup was disappointing (we know, it's peanut butter cup!) while the classic was a clear winner of chocolately goodness. Once the weather warms up, we'll lean toward sticking with the classic or trying the Bananas Foster on a return trip. In the meantime, we're eyeing the Peanut Butter Paradise milkshake (peanut butter, marshmallow fluff and chocolate sauce blended with vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and Reese's Pieces Crumbles for $6.95). Yes, that sounds heartwarming.

Not meatballs. Gelato bar.

Overall, the Meatball Spot gets a thumbs up. The biggest shock were the prices. As in we found them very affordable which was nice for a change. While we wouldn't necessarily recommend it worth a trip from The Strip just for meatballs unless you really like meatballs, half our table said they'd hit Town Square just to eat here. So, waddaweknow. It's definitely our newest go-to spot when shopping that end of the Boulevard, especially now that we know how to navigate the menu.

The total cost for four meatball entrees (two with cheese), two cocktails, two desserts and a couple cokes came to $68.86 before tip.

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