You don't know quite what to expect from chef Michael Maroni's tasting menu at his Northport restaurant, Maroni, on Long Island — baked clams casino, sashimi, lobster bisque, Memphis-style barbecue ribs — there doesn't seem to be a cohesive theme. He could send out Fruit Loops and you wouldn't be shocked. Truthfully, it's not the best tasting menu you'll ever have, but it's more than worth the trip for "Grandma Maroni's Famous Meatballs and Spaghetti."
The order of the phrasing makes sense here — it's about the meatballs. They're the juicy and moist, and served in a smooth, tangy gravy that's not too sweet, allowing the flavor of the meatballs to keep your attention. These are the kind of meatballs you'd even be happy to eat cold out of the fridge.
And that's exactly what I did at the end of August because my reservation for the tasting happened just as Hurricane Irene descended on Long Island. The restaurant finished serving the tasting menu as rain started to strike the windows. After paying the bill, we were presented with a parting gift: a free, huge, full pot of "Hurricane meatballs." They were closing early and didn't want them to go bad. Forget duct tape, that's hurricane preparedness. I'll tell you this, two days of eating Maroni meatballs wasn't enough. And for these reasons this dish made my list of most memorable meals of 2011.