Lamb And Chicken Meatballs At The Meatball Shop On The Lower East Side

A simple staple gets its due

While the general trend of the moment has seen restaurants looking forward into their neighborhoods' futures, the recently opened Meatball Shop provides a counter story.

Touting a menu hyperfocused on a notoriously frugal immigrant dish, the restaurant succeeds by aligning itself more with the LES of history books than the current hipper-than-thou swatch of town it occupies.

Here, the humble dish gains pedigree in chef Daniel Holzman, a San Francisco transplant with stints at spots like SPQR under his belt. His traditional beef meatball is a worthy recast of the grandmotherly classic, but the less-likely meats he employs make for even more delicious surprises.

A chicken iteration happily escapes that bland, parched fate generally reserved for poultry: In ball form, the moist, herb-speckled dish stands up to its red-meat brethren, particularly when doused with an earthy mushroom gravy or Parmesan cream sauce. And a minty lamb meatball is enlivened with tangy yogurt and cilantro sauce.

And in another nod to the neighborhood's bygone years, the menu's prices are out of place in their modesty. The meatball plate ($7) includes four golf-ball-size orbs with a sauce of your choice and focaccia; for an even $10, you can add a starch (like polenta, spaghetti or mashed potatoes) to harbor your protein.

Or sandwich your preferred sphere as a slider in a buttery diminutive roll for $3. And the wine list is equal parts brevity and value: Its five offerings don't dance a step beyond a tart $48 Nebbiolo.

The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton St. (between Allen and Orchard sts.); 212-892-8895 or