20 Restaurants For The Best Meatballs In NYC

New York City's food scene is bursting with options from just about every culture you can think of. It's then no surprise that this diverse culinary center has some of the best meatballs in America. Of course, Italian food is deeply ingrained in New York City culture, and New York City has some of the best Italian restaurants in the United States. However, the city also has many other types of meatballs to offer beyond traditional Italian meatballs with the classic red sauce we all know and love.

From Turkish Kofte to Swedish meatballs and gravy, New York City has plenty of options, no matter what type of meatballs you crave. Beef, pork, chicken, or veal, the city is full of unique meatballs at every turn. We've gathered 20 of the best spots throughout the city for the next time you're sure that only the perfect meatball will hit the spot.


It probably comes as no surprise that Rao's is at the top of our list for Italian meatballs. This iconic New York Italian restaurant was first opened in 1896 and has only grown in popularity ever since. The brand has also expanded to new locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles over the years and even offers jarred sauces and soups at your local grocery store. But no matter where Rao's takes its delicious cuisine, its meatballs are the pinnacle of classic New York Italian homestyle cooking.

Due to the restaurant's exclusive nature and the dish's popularity, Rao's has even shared the "secret" recipe for its beloved Italian meatballs on its website. There Rao's claims the signature dish is made by combining ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork for the perfect juicy, flavorful meatballs. If you can manage to get a table at the New York restaurant, don't hesitate to try out this truly iconic dish for yourself.


Another classic family-style New York Italian restaurant you won't want to miss is Carmine's. Claiming to want "every day to feel like Sunday afternoon at Grandma's," Carmine's delivers on homemade taste, generous portions, and a comfortable family atmosphere. For over 30 years, Carmine's has been making its guests feel like part of the family.

With two locations in New York City (one in Times Square and one on the Upper East Side), Carmine's is serving up mouthwatering traditional Italian food every day. While the restaurant is bursting with options for classic Italian-American dishes, you can't go wrong with the delicious beef and veal meatballs smothered in the restaurant's signature marinara sauce. Carmine's is a New York institution for a reason, and its meatballs are the perfect showcase of its strengths.

The Meatball Shop

If you're looking for a place to have a true meatball feast in New York City, look no further than The Meatball Shop. The restaurant offers four main types of meatballs: classic, spicy heritage pork, chicken, and house-made veggie. From there, your meatball feast is only just getting started. You then have a variety of sauces to choose from, including tomato sauce, spicy meat sauce, parmesan cream sauce, pesto, veggie ragu, and "spicy-ish" arrabbiata sauce. From there, you can make a variety of additions, including adding starches like pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta to your meal.

In addition to the mix-and-match options, The Meatball Shop also offers several signature dishes, including spaghetti in meatballs, which includes three large classic meatballs with spaghetti basked inside, each in its own sauce (tomato, parmesan cream, or pesto); rigatoni spicy pork, made with spicy pork balls, broccoli, and parmesan cream; and cavatappi chicken pesto, made with mini chicken meatballs, broccoli, and mozzarella. No matter what kind of meatball pairings you're looking for, The Meatball Shop is sure to deliver.

Little Owl

Greenwich Village Mediterranean restaurant Little Owl has been offering friendly service and delicious meals for over 16 years. Little Owl's chef, Joey Campanaro, brings childhood memories of cooking with his grandmother to life through the restaurant's creative and comforting menu.

One of the restaurant's signature appetizers is its plate of three gravy meatball sliders, which became an instant guest favorite when the restaurant opened back in 2006. Whether for brunch, lunch, or dinner, these meatball sliders keep diners coming back for more. The Italian gravy (aka red sauce) that Campanaro serves up is from his own grandmother's recipe, making it just about as authentic as you can get. So, while Little Owl may not be your typical Italian restaurant, its Italian meatballs just might be your favorite red sauce joint when all is said and done.


Located at the Redbury New York hotel near Madison Square Park, Marta's menu is inspired by Roman cooking traditions and is created with fresh, local ingredients that stand out. Featuring pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, salads, and more, Marta's dishes are sure to satisfy. Marta prides itself on its lively atmosphere and sense of community.

While many of Marta's other dishes on the menu are quite traditional, the chicken meatballs stand out from the crowd and are rather unique for meatballs from an Italian restaurant. While most Italian meatball recipes are made with ground beef, pork, veal, or some combination of the three, Marta's are made with ground chicken, as well as Gaeta olives, tomato, ricotta, and rosemary. This gives the meatballs a unique flavor and texture you just have to try for yourself.


It seems these days the name Carbone is synonymous with long lines and exclusive reservations, so if you're lucky enough to get a table, be sure to go all out with your meal. Consistently named as one of the best Italian restaurants in New York City, Carbone is a New York institution. While the spicy rigatoni pasta may be the main headline-maker as of late, the restaurant offers so much more than that.

One such dish to note is Carbone's meatballs. One of the things that makes these meatballs unique, as revealed by the recipe on Major Food Group's website, is that they are made with sweet Italian sausage in addition to the common meats of ground beef and veal. This adds a special touch of herbaceous flavor that makes these meatballs some of the best the city has to offer.


With a man nicknamed Nicky Meatballs at the helm, it's a given that Polpette has some of the best meatballs in the city. After all, that is Nicky "Meatballs" Mormando's main focus and specialty. Polpette of course, offers other typical Italian fare like soup, salads, pasta, seafood, and more, but the meatballs are the star of the show.

Polpette's meatballs have their own section on the menu and are served four main ways: sauced, which contains three beef and pork blended meatballs in homemade marinara; on sliders, which put Nicky's famous sauced meatballs on brioche rolls; in a sandwich, which makes them into a typical meatball parmigiana hero; and as classic spaghetti and meatballs in pomodoro sauce. Whichever way you choose to try Nicky's meatballs, you'll want to come back and try them all.

Enzo's of Arthur Avenue

It would be impossible to discuss the best meatballs in New York City without a mention of the Bronx's Little Italy neighborhood, Arthur Avenue. At Enzo's of Arthur Avenue, the eponymous Enzo and his wife Maria have made the restaurant the center of their family life for nearly 20 years. Since Enzo's passing in 2018, Maria has continued to run the restaurant and engage with the community just as her husband always wanted.

A true family affair, the recipes at Enzo's have been created from a combination of Enzo's training at the Culinary Institute of America and his experience working in his father's restaurant. Enzo's menu contains several different dishes with meatballs, including their signature fried meatball appetizer, with consists of beef and veal meatballs topped with sautéed onions and hot peppers; their pasta al forno pasta dish, which contains meatballs, soppressata, sausage, and fresh ricotta and mozzarella cheese; and their simple dish of pasta and meatballs with tomato sauce.


As another beloved Arthur Avenue establishment, Emilia's is serving up authentic Italian flavors in the Bronx. With friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere, you'll feel right at home at Emilia's. Whether in the dining room or out on the patio, Emilia's will make you feel like family.

Emilia's menu is packed with Italian fare from arancine to eggplant parmigiana and beyond. One guest favorite on the menu is Nonna's Sicilian meatballs, an appetizer that is made with currants and pignoli nuts and topped with a dollop of ricotta and parmigiano reggiano. The menu also offers a pasta dish of rigatoni with meatballs, made from the same Sicilian meatball recipe featuring currants and pignoli nuts. This special Sicilian recipe is a can't-miss for any meatball lover.

Antonio's Trattoria

Antonio's Trattoria, located in the Bronx's Little Italy neighborhood along Arthur Avenue, offers authentic Italian dishes that taste just like Nonna made them. Serving traditional pizza, pasta, antipasti, and more, Antonio's knows how to fill their dishes with Italian heritage and love.

Of course, this menu would not be complete without multiple ways to order Italian meatballs. On the antipasti section of the menu, polpettine or mini fried veal meatballs and marinara sauce are offered, as well as regular-sized veal meatballs with plum tomato sauce and a dollop of ricotta. Antonio's also offers spaghetti with meatballs as a main dish on the pasta section of the menu. Whether you're looking for a reliable old-school favorite meal or a small but tasty appetizer, Antonio's has the perfect meatball option for you.

Vesta Trattoria & Winebar

Vesta Trattoria & Winebar in Astoria, Queens, is a neighborhood wine bar serving up fresh Italian recipes and a wonderful selection of wines to pair for a perfect match. Serving lunch and dinner, Vesta Trattoria & Winebar's menu includes pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and more.

One fan-favorite appetizer available at both lunch and dinner is the braised meatballs with spicy tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, and grana padano. These offer a little more kick than your average Italian meatballs, thanks to the spicy sauce. Among the tasty sandwich selections available at lunchtime is Vesta's meatball parm hero, made with beef and veal meatballs, fresh mozzarella, and tomato sauce. This classic Italian-American sandwich makes for the perfect lunchtime bite. No matter which meatball dish you choose, you'll know you made the right choice for delicious Italian meatballs in Astoria.

Russo's Mozzarella & Pasta

Best known for its delicious Italian sandwiches, paninis, and wraps, Russo's Mozzarella & Pasta is the place to go for a hearty Italian lunch. Located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Russo's Mozzarella & Pasta is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. The restaurant also offers a variety of foods to take home and create your own Italian feast, including fresh Italian sausages, rotisserie chicken, Italian cold cuts by the pound, homemade sauce, frozen and fresh ravioli, frozen tortelloni, and fresh Italian bread.

Russo's meatball parmesan sandwich is made with fresh Italian bread, classic Italian meatballs, and homemade sauce, topped off with gooey, melty cheese. As one of the restaurant's best-selling items, it's clear that customers can't stop coming back for more of this tasty classic Italian-American hero. We're sure you'll be back again too!

Kofte Piyaz

Kofte Piyaz, a Turkish restaurant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is serving up authentic Turkish favorites like baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, gyros, and more. Since the word "kofte" in the name of the restaurant refers to grilled Turkish meatballs, it's no surprise that meatballs are a major attraction on the menu.

Diners can order a main course option that includes grilled beef meatballs served with a house salad, grilled tomato, rice pilaf, and Turkish bread or a grilled beef meatball sandwich served with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on Turkish bread. Whether as a sandwich or a main course, you're sure to enjoy the mouthwatering grilled flavor of Kofte Piyaz's grilled beef meatballs. Finish it off with a Turkish tea or coffee, and you have the perfect Turkish meal.

ABA Turkish Restaurant

Located near the southwest corner of Central Park, ABA Turkish Restaurant serves up a variety of Turkish and Mediterranean dishes every day for New Yorkers to enjoy. With a comfortable atmosphere and Istanbul-inspired vibes, ABA Turkish Restaurant is the perfect place for authentic Mediterranean food for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

From omelets for breakfast to Greek salads, gyros, and shish kabobs for lunch and dinner ABA Turkish Restaurant truly showcases a wide range of Mediterranean cuisine, with something for everyone to enjoy. One notable dish from the main course section of the menu is the Turkish meatballs, or "kofte." These grilled meatballs are made with ground lamb and beef and seasoned with Turkish spices. The meatballs are then served alongside rice, lettuce, and red cabbage garnish.

Shanghai You Garden

With locations in Flushing and Bayside, Queens, Shanghai You Garden specializes in Shanghainese cuisine. Some of the restaurant's popular dishes include Peking duck, soup dumplings, dim sum, and more. The menu boasts a wide variety of unique dishes, including a large selection of dumplings and even special Shanghainese breakfast items like red bean puffs and fried buns with chives and eggs.

While Shanghai You Garden may be best known for its dumplings, it offers so much more than that. One of the most popular Shanghainese specials served up at Shanghai You Garden is the braised meatballs with crab meat. These are made with a mixture of crab meat and pork and braised in a soy sauce mixture. These saucy, savory meatballs are sure to satisfy your next meatball craving.

Shanghai 21

Located on Mott Street in Manhattan's Chinatown, Shanghai 21 offers some of the most authentic Chinese food in the city, with a special focus on Shanghainese cuisine. The Shanghai 21 staff is dedicated to using fresh, high-quality ingredients in all of the restaurant's dishes.

The restaurant offers Shanghai-style takes on Chinese food dishes we all know and love like chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp lo mein. Shanghai 21 also offers Shanghai-style fried rice as well as steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, soup dumplings, and more. Perhaps one of the most unique and notable Shanghainese specialties the restaurant offers is the braised Lion's Head Meatballs, made with pork and served in a soy sauce-based sauce. They are available as their own dish with vegetables, as well as in a special casserole. However you try them, you'll definitely be glad that you did.


Oliva brings an authentic Spanish tapas experience from Madrid to Manhattanville with vibrant dishes, an extensive wine list, and tasty cocktails. Chef and proprietor Franklin Becker prides himself on creating and serving healthy dishes without skimping on flavor. As a Type 2 diabetic himself, Becker pays special attention to using fresh, healthy ingredients that still leave guests wanting to come back for more. By collaborating with the restaurant's chef de cuisine, Chris Strelnick, the pair have created an extensive menu of incredible tapas options for their guests to enjoy.

From cured meats and cheeses to shareable dishes for a group, there is no shortage of options for everyone on the Oliva menu. On the warm dishes section of the menu, one dish you won't want to miss is Spanish meatballs called albóndigas. These traditional Spanish meatballs are made with various spices and served in a light tomato-based sauce that will hit the spot.

Socarrat Paella Bar

Named after the crust that forms at the bottom of a paella pan, Socarrat Paella Bar offers a variety of Spanish cuisine, with a special focus on tapas and, of course, paella. With three locations throughout New York City, Socarrat serves up some of the best authentic Spanish cuisine in the city.

One of the many tasty dishes on the tapas menu is albóndigas, which is Spanish for meatballs. These Spanish meatballs are made from a mixture of veal and beef to ensure that they are both tender and hearty when eaten and are then seasoned with a variety of spices. Finally, the albóndigas are covered in a light tomato sauce to round out the dish. The light sauce is made from a mixture of tomatoes, sautéed onions, garlic, olive oil, and parsley.


Two-Michelin-star restaurant Aquavit is offering upscale Nordic specialties in Midtown. Located on 55th Street off of Park Avenue, this chic setting is perfect for your next social or professional formal dining event. Aquavit offers two- and three-course lunch options, as well as tasting menus to make the most of your dining experience.

Aquavit specializes in taking traditional Nordic dishes and elevating them to Michelin-star status with unique seasonal ingredients and cooking techniques that create a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. The restaurant's three-course lunch menu offers a variety of delicious takes on Nordic dishes, including Norwegian king crab, a herring sampler plate, gravlax, and more. One stand-out dish from the restaurant's second course is the Swedish meatballs, which are served with pommes puree, lingonberries, and pickled cucumber.


Thanks to two Danes' desire to bring Nordic-inspired food to New York City, Smør was created in 2019. The restaurant offers brunch, lunch, and dinner, with a ton of fun options to choose from, no matter the time of day. Whether you're looking for smoked salmon, pickled herring, or Danish pancakes, Smør has got it covered. Cocktails, beer, or natural wine are the perfect way to round out your meal.

The dinner menu offers both smaller plates and larger plates, with greens, hotdogs, sides, and desserts also available. One highlight of the larger plates section of the menu is the Swedish meatballs, served with mashed potatoes, sautéed broccoli rabe, homestyle gravy, caramelized onions, and jam. These delicious traditional Swedish meatballs are sure to wow you with the perfect flavor combination when paired with the traditional gravy and sides.