7. Meatballs from Pirozzi
Meatball ice cream with cheese frosting
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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.
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.
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