Spaghetti and meatballs is one of those classic, timeless dishes, and even though it has some serious Italian influences, it’s arguably as much as an American classic as apple pie. Not nearly as many restaurants serve the dish these days as in the past, however, so it can be tricky to track down a truly great plate of spaghetti and meatballs. But at these 10 restaurants, the spaghetti and meatballs is better than at anywhere else in America.
Spaghetti and meatballs has an interesting history; it’s a staple of Italian restaurants, but you’d be hard-pressed to find it being served in Italy outside of places catering specifically to American tourists. Why? Because in Italy, pasta dishes tend to be served as primi, before the main meat course (secondi), and all its components tend to be incorporated into the sauce. Meatballs, or polpette, do exist in Italy, but they’re never just plunked down atop a mound of spaghetti; they’re usually eaten as is or maybe with some focaccia. Combining the two was the idea of Italian chefs who immigrated to America and discovered that Americans want meat in every dish, and they want it combined into one heaping plate of food.
Spaghetti and meatballs used to be a lot easier to track down than they currently are; the old-school red sauce Italian joints that specialized in them are quickly falling out of favor. And when you do find spaghetti and meatballs on a menu, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to be good; the pasta can be overcooked and drowning in a bland canned sauce, and the meatballs can be leaden and tasteless. Thankfully, these places have the formula down to a science.