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.
Bartolini’s might be most famous for its Annual Meatball Eating Championship and a 10-pound meatball sandwich challenge (with 40 meatballs), but gimmickry aside, these are also some stellar meatballs. Pork and beef are mixed with garlic, Parmesan, eggs, and milk-soaked bread, formed into two-ounce balls, and baked. If you can’t wait until your next trip to Chicago to try these, they can be shipped to you.
Charlie Gitto’s is a St. Louis institution, arguably its most famous Italian restaurant. Sure, it may be touristy, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t good; in fact, locals will tell you that there’s no better place for a big platter of Italian-American classics, especially spaghetti and meatballs. Meatballs are perfectly sized and long-simmered until tender, and they’re nestled in a bed of al dente spaghetti and topped with house-made Bolognese and a healthy dose of shredded mozzarella before being finished in the oven.
This West Hollywood red sauce institution, going strong since 1964, is something to experience. Step out of the bright lights of Hollywood and sit down at a table or corner booth in the dimly lit, seemingly windowless, red-walled dining room, take a look around for Nicky and Michael, and enjoy the ride. You’ll most likely feel strangely compelled to order spaghetti and meatballs, so trust your gut: You’ll receive a plate of spaghetti topped with two giant meatballs and a big ladle of meat sauce. Good luck finishing the whole thing.
Yelp/ Kia W
This Baltimore landmark is half-deli, half-grocery, and there are lines out the door on a daily basis for a very good reason: Everything served here is astoundingly delicious. Seriously, you can drink the marinara sauce straight if you want to. Going strong for more than 100 years, the closely guarded meatball recipe doesn’t appear to have changed at all since day one. Order spaghetti and meatballs and you’ll receive two perfect meatballs alongside a heap of evenly sauced spaghetti and a slice of fresh Italian bread.
This funky Mission District standout does its spaghetti right, as the name might imply. And the best way to sample them? Tossed with house-made chunky marinara sauce and served with three 100-percent beef meatballs. Take a look around and you’ll notice that everyone else is eating them, because they’re just that good.
Yelp/ Melissa M.
The meatballs at the diminutive Maroni’s are legendary, so much so that Bobby Flay himself challenged owner Mike Maroni to a meatball Throwdown, and Maroni won. They’re made with ground beef and baked instead of fried, but the secret to this winning recipe (which is more than 100 years old) are the copious amounts of pecorino Romano and garlic that go into the mixture. The hour they spend braising in fresh tomato sauce doesn’t hurt, either. These meatballs are served with bucatini, a thicker, hollow spaghetti that’s common around Rome.
Yelp/ Eric R.
Order the spaghetti con le polpettine at this popular North Jersey destination and you'll receive a big bowl filled with perfectly al dente spaghetti along with a dozen or so small meatballs. They're made from scratch daily according to an old family recipe, and the dish is absolutely addictive.
Yelp/ Nicole R.
The meatballs served at New York’s popular Parm, helmed by the on-fire duo of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, aren’t exactly balls; they’re flattened so as to better fit inside a sandwich. A combination of beef, veal, and sweet Italian sausage is mixed with fried onions, celery, carrots, stale bread, milk, grated cheese, and eggs. They’re delicious when tucked inside a bun with cheese and sauce, but we suggest you order them with a side of rigatoni fra diavolo, tossed with a pink sauce and Calabrian chile. Sure, it’s not exactly traditional, but it’s so good.
The meatballs at Rubirosa are tender, flavorful, and loaded with Parmigiano-Reggiano; they’d even be perfectly complemented by boxed spaghetti and jarred sauce. But at this New York favorite, they’re served with fresh-made spaghetti alla chitarra and tossed with a chunky homemade sauce that sticks to every strand.
This popular South End spot is the best place in Boston for spaghetti and meatballs thanks to the care and dedication that chef Evan Deluty puts into every component. The meatballs are loosely formed and nicely browned before finishing in a pot of thick homemade sauce; the spaghetti is homemade and tender, and it’s topped with a sprinkling of Parmigiano and parsley. And to top it off, the kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m., an hour and a half later than most other restaurants. Want to know if Stella is the best Italian restaurant in the state? Find out here!