“We’ve been cooking the meatball for five years,” says Rob Gal, co-owner and chef of Bootleg Meatballs. After a couple of years of toying with the concept, Gal and co-founder Elliot Krass finally went with their gut and made the decision to shut down for a short stint and re-focus on the comfort-food staple.

“It was always one of our best sellers,” Gal explains. “This was normally the dish we’d sell out of.”

Five basic balls make up the menu; classic beef and pork, plus more adventurous options such as chicken, fish or veggies. Each menu item, down to the bread rolls, is made in-house, (the meatballs are hand ground with herb and spice combinations to complement the flavour of the base) and uses only local ingredients. Beef is paired with basil, chicken with dill and fish with coriander.

Balls are served either as a slider or sub or as an “over-and-under” dish; a choice of an under such as spaghetti, veggies or polenta with extras and sauces over the top.

“The real point of difference for Bootleg is the extras,” explains Gal. “Customers are coming up with combinations we never thought of, and it just works.” Pile beef balls over spaghetti with Napoli sauce and parmesan crisps for a classic combo or go rogue with choices such as kale pesto, blue cheese, or bacon, to name a few.

Walking in off Victoria Street is like walking back in time into a New York City speakeasy. Booths are upholstered in red leather and vintage appliances and artwork by Jeanette Beckman adorn the walls.

Bootleg’s famous Bloody Mary Martini is still prominent on the drink list. The rest of the list is short and sweet, just like the meatball menu. “It’s simple,” says Gal, “but that’s the beauty of it, going back and paying homage to the basics.”

Bootleg Meatballs
175 Victoria Street, Potts Point
(02) 9361 3884

Tues, Wed, Sun 5pm–11pm
Thur to Sat 5pm–1am