Famous New York-based chef Daniel Holzman is planning to open meatball eateries in New York, a niche he helped to create in a city that’s mad for hamburgers. The 32-year-old and his long-time friend Michael Chernow opened The Meatball Shop more than a year ago. Now, they sell 2,000 of their meaty creations smothered in a variety of sauces each day. The New York City native speaks about his passion for meatballs and why they are a universal food.
How did you come up the idea for the restaurant?
The meatball concept came when I was sitting with my partner (Chernow) at the restaurant he was working at before and eating a bowl of their meatballs, rigatoni and sausage. Eating this meatball reminded me of Italy when eating them was the main course, the prized course, the star of the meal.
Are you surprised how quickly you are expanding?
When we originally talked about this concept, we had talked about ‘let’s make this restaurant as simple as possible’, with the eye towards that if we are lucky, we could expand. I was always thinking three years, four years down the road if it goes really, really well. The fun thing about this restaurant is that it’s so simple, it kind of works.
What do you think is the key to its success?
With more people eating out, they are looking for what I would make at home or what my mom would make for me. It’s delicious and simple. You don’t always want to have the fancy chefs.
What kind of meatballs do you like?
I tend to like simpler, classic profiles myself. I also like the Japanese meatballs that you get in little grill places like Yakitori Totto (a Japanese restaurant in New York), where I had their chicken meatballs. The funny thing is that it has a completely different texture... That’s the funny thing about meatball. Every culture has a meatball. They all share the same principle, but they are all so different.
2 pounds pork shoulder, ground
1-1/3 tbsp salt
4 hot cherry peppers, minced (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup pepper pickling liquid
4 slices white bread, minced (about 3-1/2 cups)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degree Fahrenheit. Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Drizzle the olive oil into a large baking dish making sure to evenly coat the entire surface.
Roll the mixture into round, golf ball sized meatballs. See that you pack the meat firmly. Place the balls into the oiled baking dish so that all of the meatballs are lined up evenly in rows and are touching each of their four neighbours in a grid. Roast until firm. Allow the meatballs to cool for five minutes before serving.
Spicy meat sauce
Cook one onion and one pound pork shoulder, with two tablespoons olive oil, chili flakes and salt till the meat is thoroughly cooked. Add two tablespoons tomato paste and continue cooking for five minutes. Add some canned tomatoes and cook for 35 minutes stirring every five minutes.