The Meatball Shop

photo by Will Sterns

The Meatball Shop may very well take the country someday, but for now, this local chain is limited to New York City, spawned from one outpost on the Lower East Side that opened in 2010. Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow planned a small, counter-service joint, but serving balls in a number of ways required a sit-down dining component. They opened to a line that stretched around the corner onto Allen Street, and in their wake came an onslaught of single-item restaurant concepts in the city. The guys now run five locations across two boroughs, but downtowners still flock to the original for its ability to rev up pre-party crowds with soul-shaking tracks and sate post-bar stragglers with a 4 a.m. weekend closing time. No matter what time you drop in, mark your meatball flavor, sauce, and starch on a laminated menu; pair your meal with sangria; and follow up the main event with an epic ice cream sandwich.