7. Meatballs from Pirozzi

Meatball ice cream with cheese frosting
Meatball ice cream with cheese frosting
Jennifer Fedrizzi

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I'm pretty sure I've not had a meatball as scrumptious or as soft as the ones Alessandro Pirozzi is serving at Pirozzi, his new restaurant in Corona del Mar. And I don't know why it took me this long to try them. After all, I've been to all of his restaurants: Mare Culinary Lounge at the Laguna Beach Holiday Inn, Alessá in downtown Laguna, even Cucina Alessá in Huntington Beach, with which he's no longer affiliated. Perhaps I was too distracted by the cool-blue nightclub atmospherics at Mare or the overwhelmingly encyclopedic menu at Alessá to notice he's probably always made meatballs this good.

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These are delicate orbs whose structural integrity is retained only until touched. Nudge one with your fork, and it surrenders under just the slightest pressure, as though it's made of freshly packed snow. It's even better when you put it in your mouth, as it disintegrates into a hot, meaty pudding capable of invading every pore. As an appetizer, you get three of them draped in burrata cheese, oozing as though they're melted camp marshmallows, with an ambrosial ragù and sprinkles of basil. They're by far the most popular dish at Pirozzi. You see every table with an order. I had them as part of the spaghetti Mamma Mia entrée; for two bucks more than the appetizer price, the meatballs are served atop about six forkfuls of pasta.

As good and as properly cooked as it is, the spaghetti is a supporting co-star to these beefy beauts. Each piece that collapsed from the whole delivered warmness directly to my soul. If you want a heartier meal, Pirozzi also adds one meatball to his baked ziti--firm but tender pasta tubes oven-fused with a richly meaty Bolognese and the heady stink of three cheeses. But once you've had the spaghetti, the solitary meatball in the baked ziti dish will no longer be enough.

The List:

8. Ribeye from Selanne Steak Tavern 9. Barra Vieja from Anepalco's Cafe 10. Poki Bowl from PokiNometry 11. Soba Anything at Tanakaya 12. Secret Grilled-Cheese Sandwich from Old Vine Cafe 13. Strawberry Mochi at J. Sweet Bakery 14. Sushi from Del Sushi 15. Kibbeh at Aleppo's Kitchen 16. Cha Ca Thang Long at Vien Dong 17. Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich at Lucca Cafe 18. Catch-Style Carrot Cake at The Catch 19. Chicken, Broccoli and Mushroom Sandwich with Garlic Sauce from Le Diplomat 20. Vietnamese Baguette from Saigon Bakery 21. Whole Roasted Cauliflower from Lark Creek 22. Wagyu Loco Moco Skillet from Urban Seoul 2.0 23. Orange Blossom Honey from Massey Honey Co 24. Duck and Pork Cassoulet from Pinot Provence 25. Hash brown cake at Zov's 26. Poke at Bear Flag Fish Company 27. Avocado Ice Cream at à la minute 28. Icre at Dunarea 29. Milky Bun at Afters Ice Cream 30. Drunken Cow Pie at Pie Not 31. Chamorro al Guajillo at Sabroso! 32. Garbanzos at the North Left 33. Burger at Riders Club Cafe 34. Wraps at Kech Cafe 35. Pupusas de Frijol con Queso at Las Casuelas 36. Chicken Marsala at Aioli 37. Phnom Penh Noodle & Cha-Kwai at Little La Lune 38. Fried Chicken at Disneyland's Plaza Inn 39. Cookie Monster Ice Cream from B. Candy 40. Bento Box from California Gogi Korean Grill 41. Jasmine Milk Tea Ice Cream at Afters Ice Cream 42. 79 Special at Hapi Sushi 43. Chicken Nuggets at The North Left 44. Spicy Lemon Garlic Chicken at Chicken Maison 45. Surround Sound Burrito at the Secret Spot 46. Cheesecake Beignets At Scott's Restaurant 47. Spam and Egg Banh Mi From Tan Hoang Huong 48. Marianne's 10-20 Ice Cream At Ruby's Diner 49. Chile Relleno Pretzel Cheeseburger at OC Fair 50. Lunch at Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland 51. Pescado A Lo Macho at Muelle Peruvian Cantina 52. Cemita de Milanesa at La Cemita Poblana 53. Meatballs and Polenta at 320 Main 54. Shellfish (Ốc) at Hien Vuong Da Kao 55. Basic Bol at Boldo Bol 56. Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill 57. 10-Item Plate at Thuan Kieu Noodle & Grill 58. Leche Frita at Cafe Sevilla 59. Happy Hour Sushi at Ginzaya 60. Red Beans and Rice at Disneyland's French Market 61. Consommé from Tacos y Birria El Güero 62. Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich at Little Sparrow 63. Breakfast Taco at Sapphire Laguna 64. Husky Burger at Husky Boy Burgers 65. Love Bagel from Koffee Klatch 66. Kouign Amann From The Crema Cafe & Bakery 67. Chili Lime Popcorn From Green Tomato Grill 68. PB & J At Hopscotch 69. Takuwan Sushi from AnQi by Crustacean 70. Ube Ensaymadas from The Ensaymada Project 71. Pork Bánh Mì at the OC Poultry and Rotisserie Market 72. Tacos Gobernador from Mariscos Los Corales 73. Dutch Baby at the Original Pancake House 74. Doughnuts from Sidecar 75. Lengua Tacos at La Chonita 76. Oysters from Carlsbad Aquafarm at the Orange Homegrown Farmers Market 77. Lemon Miso Crab Melt at Umami Burger in Laguna Beach 78. Pani Puri from Adya 79. The Pocket at the Pocket Burger 80. Gyro Sandwich from Paul's Place 81. Slice of Heaven at Pie-Not 82. Taquitos at El Toro Bravo 83. Peanut Butter and Jelly Donut at the Donuttery 84. Dan Dan Mian at Wei-Shian Noodle 85. Beef Burger at Rider's Club Café 86. Smoked Trout at Provenance 87. Small Plates at A&J Restaurant 88. Corn Cheese at Zoomak Asian Bistro 89. Pumpkin Curry at Bhan Baitong 90. Poke at Costco Tustin II 91. Pambazo at Tacos Radioactivos 92. Beef Pho at Pho Crystal Noodle House 93. Breakfast Burrito from Cafe Calacas 94. Koobideh Plate from Grill Cafe 95. Tacos de Cecina from Alebrije's 96. Jajangmyeong from Ching Chinese Express 97. Breakfast Sausage from Da-Le Ranch 98. Any Special Dinner by Old Vine Cafe's Mark McDonald 99. Tres Amigos Burrito from Piaggio on Wheels 100. Bacon-Wrapped Dates from Lola Gaspar

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