When it’s hot, you want a cup of ice cream. When it’s cold, you want a cup of meatball.
When you look at it that way, you may begin to grasp the logic behind the Home of the Original Meatball in a Cup.
It opened in time for summer, since it is clearly up for a challenge, but it is now embarking upon its maiden meatball season. It has unveiled new items, new toppings, and a new meatball, and it is waiting to see you having yourself a little Italian meal walking.
In keeping with popular practice, it provides you with three steps toward acquiring your optimal movable feast. Step 1 is “Indulge Your Obsession,” which means “Choose Your Meatball,” which means you can have Beef, Turkey, Pork Sausage, or the new Chicken, in Sunday Sauce.
Step 2 is “Choose Your Style,” which means that if you don’t like cups you can have your meatball stuffed in the Original Pocket Sandwich. Step 3 is “The Toppings,” which means that you can complicate your meatball with flavorings from Locatelli Pecorino Romano to the new Sautéed Peas and Onions.
You get a single meatball — in either format — for $4; you get one topping free and others for 50 cents or $1 apiece. To expand your options, there are now ravioli, and to complete your meal there are now cannoli, which come from Arthur Avenue but get assembled in the store.
It may all sound a little detached, but be assured that, in fact, it all came straight from Grandma’s kitchen. The Grandma was Anna Mancini, and her grandson is Daniel Mancini, who has spent his life obsessesed with her meatballs, which is why he brought them back.
“One of my favorite memories was waking up every Sunday morning to the wonderful smell of her meatballs and Sunday Sauce cooking on the stove,” Daniel says in his meatball credo. “Sunday afternoon our home was full of family and friends enjoying the feast my grandmother prepared.”
He had a career running clothing companies but ditched it to make meatballs, which he has since sold in stores under the name of MamaMancini’s. But he also wanted to sell them hot, so this year he opened his meatball stand. He didn’t come up with the cup. Grandma did that, too.
The city, of course, has been in a meatball phase for a while. The phase has given us, among other things, The Meatball Shop and The Meatball Factory. No meatball source, however, has been quite as accessible as Meatball Obsession’s color-coded pots and open window.
I had meatballs. I had Beef and Turkey. (I had them before there was Chicken.) Both of them were excellent, and the sauce was delicious. Two or three make a good meal. You get two for $7.50 and three for $10. You get a 10 percent discount on 50, but my limit is 45.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous before we opened Meatball Obsession,” Daniel says in the credo. “Would people not want a meatball in a cup?”
So far people have wanted it. And more are bound to want it, because meatballs always look better in December than in July.Roll with it at Meatball Obsession, 510 Sixth Avenue, between 13th and 14th streets, in New York City.