The opening of Original Meatball Company is a case of not knowing you needed it until it appeared. The dire lack of meatball-centric cafes in Sydney has now been addressed, thankfully, by this closet-sized ode to the ball, opened by Dominic Lopresti (co-founder of Gelatissimo) and Jay Lyon (model and member of the band Tamarama).
The space centres around a theatrical open kitchen, where you can see meatballs baking behind the flurry of activity of the production line. “Launching in the CBD was so important,” Lopresti explains. “It had to have a quick, grab-and-go, buzzy, New York vibe. We aim to have the order completed in three minutes so people can get back to the office.” Cream and maroon tiles and wooden chairs add charm, as do the staff’s flat brims with “baller” or “ballin’’ scrawled across them.
The menu’s heroes are meatballs on brioche, on rustic white buns and salad bowls. The dishes names are cheeky; Mamma’s Balls (pork and veal with ragu sauce, provolone cheese) and Swedish Ja (pork and veal with lingonberry jam, mushroom gravy, sweet mustard and Swiss cheese). “The Swedish Ja, Chipotle Chick and Mama’s Balls are my favourites,” says Lopresti. “I love my mama’s balls,” he says with a laugh.
As well as the classic pork and veal combination there’s beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian balls. The salad bowls are carefully thought out combinations rather than replicas with lettuce instead of bread. “We didn’t want to be known as just dude food. We realised we had to build a menu that appeals to everyone,” says Laprosti. It’s no surprise that a chef with seriously impressive chops is behind the menu; James Kidman spent eight years as head chef at Otto Ristorante.
There are fries on the side along with heart-stopping cookie milkshakes, with make-your-own-flavour combinations including sticky date or brandy snap cookie with salted caramel or espresso ice cream. “I wanted a menu that people would be drooling over when they were reading it,” Lopresti says.
Original Meatball Company
Shop 3, 56–58 York Street, Sydney
(02) 8213 0213
Mon to Fri: 9am–5.30pm