Two new restaurants offering pork sandwiches for me to try in one week? Things are looking good. That’s where the similarity ends though. In fact, these two new spots couldn’t be any less alike. First up, The Meatball Shop in the Lower East Side. I can already hear the haters whining about the service. Hey, the restaurant is brand-new. If you want perfect service in the first few weeks, go somewhere else. If you want pork meatballs from heaven, this is your place. They don’t let you order the sliders to go, but I have to recommend that you order a hero, even if you’re dining in… seriously.
I had a chance to watch the crew making the sliders. A dab of sauce, and that’s about it. Check out my pork meatball hero above. It’s dripping with the “spicy meat” sauce, with a nice blanket of cheese. The sliders look dainty by comparison. But what about the meatballs? I say they’re just about perfect. Remember how your mom used to pound the life out of her meatballs until you were left with something resembling a round brick? Well, this place is the opposite of that. Light, juicy, and they fall apart in your mouth. (That’s a good thing, trust me.) P.S. I almost threw away the spinach salad (with sliced apples) because, umm, who cares about the salad? That would have been a big mistake. I need the recipe for the dressing, because those were some good greens. P.P.S. I love the decor at The Meatball Shop, but I didn’t feel like busting out my camera while I was waiting for my order. Sometimes you just want to take it easy and enjoy yourself.
Next stop, Hoboken. If you live or work in the area, then you probably already know and love the Cuban-Latino restaurant Zafra. The same owners just opened Ultramarinos next door, and it looks like they’re doing prepared foods for lunch and dinner take-out. The full menu is extensive, and I imagine they’re going to be tweaking it in the months to come. For now, I have to rave about the $7 roasted pork sandwich. My photo is not doing this thing justice. They got the texture just right. What a treat for locals. There’s way too much here to talk about, and it would take a lot more trips to try it all, so here’s a little photo tour.
Cute, right? Definitely worth a visit, even if taking the Path train to NJ makes you nervous.
I'm Justin Schwartz, an Executive Cookbook Editor for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. My opinions are my own and have nothing to do with my employer. I'm an occasional food writer and wannabe photographer, and this blog is about what I'm up to these days. I'm the author of Veg Out Vegetarian Guide to New York City and The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook. You can email me at justin at justinschwartz.com. I'm also on Instagram.
A lot of the books I write about are ones I've edited, so my opinions are very biased. And if I didn't work on the book, someone probably gave it to me for free. So keep that in mind before you take my word for it. Sometimes I just like to give a shout-out to my friends.