Beer & Balls - Manhattan, New York

By now many of you have probably heard of Thrillist, they send out daily e-mail updates to their members highlighting events, restaurants and hot spots in your city.  Along with many of these articles members are offered a chance to purchase tickets or meals at a discounted prices.  The best part of Thrillist is that it is free so you do not have to pay to get any of these benefits.  We have been a member of Thrillist for awhile now and have seen some pretty cool events and deals in the past but never actually went to one.  That all changed when a friend of ours sent us the information regarding the Beer & Balls event.

Presented by Get Real Events, Beer & Balls featured 3 hours (actually 4 if you went VIP) of endless craft beers and gourmet meatballs.  There were 40 craft beers available sourced from brewers such as  Lagunitas, Dogfish Head, Allagash, Smuttynose, Kelso, Brooklyn, Cigar City, Sixpoint, Hill Farmstead, Wandering Star, and many, many more. To go along with these numerous libations there were 12 chefs from all around NYC making delicious balls of meat (and one vegetarian option).  These balls were not just your common meatballs instead they were created using only the finest ingredients and the meat from about eight different animals.  Each one had its own theme and regional flavor providing us with a nice variety of meatballs.  The best part of the event was that it was all you could eat and all you could drink.  

For an event like this you would probably expect to pay some where around $80 dollars.  Yet even after we decided to go with the VIP ticket because it gave us an extra hour of eating and drinking and we only paid $50.  Now talk about a deal, especially considering beer prices in New York City.  We saved up our appetite, skipped breakfast and headed out to see who would wow us with the best meatballs.  There was a close battle for the top spot, keep reading to find out which one came out on top.

Chef: Thomas Harder

Meatball Vitals: Wild Boar, grassfed Beef and Elk – Middle-Eastern flavored Meatball



This was the first ball we got as soon as we walked it.  It was nice and hot and very flavorful.  It was a middle eastern style meatball so you could really taste the cumin in both the sauce and the ball.  The sauce had a nice amount of heat without over powering the dish.  You could not really tell that these meatballs were made from three animals.  They were good and a nice way to start off the event.

Chef: Thomas Mosera

Meatball Vitals: Beef and Pork Meatball Sliders



After the ball from Blind Tiger, we found this Italian slider.  This was a traditional Italian meatball with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce on a bun.  The meat was very tender and tasted just like an Italian meatball should.  The sauce complemented the meatball well with a nice sweetness.  The ricotta was an interesting touch and added a creaminess to the slider.  We were happy with the flavor of this meatball but it was a little bit cold and it took away from the dish. 

Chef: Chris Hamil

Meatball Vitals: Fried Pork, Bacon, Cheddar, Meatball


The guys working the Manchester Pub section were super friendly and engaging.  They were not waiting for people to come to them instead if they saw you with a free hand they made sure they got a meatball in it.  As soon as we heard the ingredients we knew this was going to be good.  It was a deep fried pork, bacon, and Cheddar meatball.  We are not sure any description can do this meatball justice. It had a crispy outside and a juicy center.  It had this awesome smokiness thanks to the bacon that was mellowed out by the richness of the cheddar.  This ball was the only one that was not cooked in a sauce or had a dipping sauce with it  It did not need either one, they were prefect as is.  We started speaking with the guys at the Manchester and suggested they should serve these guys on a slider with some type of chipotle sauce.  These meatballs were so good that we lost track of how many we had.

Chef: 4Food Staff

Meatball Vitals: Wild Boar Meatballs w Toasted Coconut Rice & Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce


After gorging ourself with the fried morsels from The Manchester Pub, we saw someone eating this meatball with rice.  Turns out it was coconut rice and we made our way through the crowd to try it.  This meatball was super tender and had a great sweet and spicy flavor.  The heat came from the chilli sauce while the coconut added the sweetness.  The rice was cooked perfectly and was infused with the coconut.  We loved the rice and it was a great side dish for these meatballs.  This was a good meatball, we may have gone back for more.

Chef: Jordan Andino

Meatball Vitals: All Natural Turkey, Wagu Kobe Beef for Fig and Tomato Meatball



This meatball was a combination of both Turkey and Wagu beef and it helped create a nice light and fork tender meatball.  The ball had great flavor but the star in this dish was the fig sauce.  The fig sauce added this intensely sweet flavor that complemented all of the flavors in the meatball.  We found ourselves adding more and more of the extra sauce to each bite.  This was a really good meatball that added a different take on a the flavor profile of a traditional meatball.

Chef: Celsa Gonzalez 

Meatball Vitals: Berkshire pork, wild boar & venison meatball with chipotle and roasted tomato


This meatball comes from the restaurant Corino located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  They have a reputation for having great tacos so we were a bit surprised to see them making meatballs.  They did however stick to their Spanish roots by making a meatball topped with a roasted tomato and chipotle sauce.  This meatball was moist and flavorful, but we felt the sauce was missing something.  We thought it was going to have more heat than it ended up happening.  The sauce did have a nice color but we think it needed some more body to help meld with the meatball.  Perhaps keeping some of the tomato chunky in the sauce would have been nice.

Chef: Clay Gordon

Meatball Vitals: Albondigas con Mole Poblano (all natural Turkey Meatballs in traditional Mexican Chocolate and Chili Pepper Sauce)



This meatball is covered in a chocolate sauce and bacon, how often do you see that?  Unfortunately we were not huge fans of the mole sauce on this meatball.  We found it to be a bit bland and it did not add to the meatball.  The sauce looked awesome in presentation but that was about it.  We loved the addition of bacon to go with the turkey meatball but as a whole this was not our favorite.

Chef: Brian Yurko

Meatball Vitals: Berkshire Pork for Soup Dumpling Meatballs with Wonton Chips


This was one of the more unique meatballs we had all day.  It was a Pork Dumpling Soup meatball.  It was super tender with a liquid center that tasted exactly like dumpling soup.  It was paired with a crispy wonton chip.  It was a very solid meatball with a nice twist.

Chef: Jonathan Van Sleet

Meatball Vitals: Pork Meatballs with Sweet & Smokey BBQ Sauce



MexiQ provided a nice pork meatball with a sweet and smoky chipotle sauce.  This was one of the favorites within the group.  The pork was cooked perfectly and married with the BBQ sauce.  The sauce hit you with a good amount of sweetness but then followed that up with a generous amount of heat.  It was not overly hot, but enough to make sure you knew there were chipotles in it.  They also added a smokiness to the ball.

Chef: Stefan Ching 

Meatball Vitals: Elk bourginion, Venison meatballs with tomato chili and Curry ballwurst


Kupersmith gave us some nice meatballs using elk and venison.  These had great flavor and were finished off with a tomato chili sauce.  The sauce was sweet but added some needed heat.  It provided a nice counter point to the saltiness of the meat.  These were tasty and we snagged more than one.

Chef: Phillipe

Meatball Vitals: Baked Vegetable Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


We did say there was a vegetarian options and it comes from Cafe Dalsace.  Now it takes some confidence in your meatballs to come to a meatball event with a vegetable meatball.  You have to please us carnivores without an ingredient that is in the foods name.  We were pleasantly surprised with this meatball.  It was very flavorful and fresh.  If you did not know this was a vegetarian meatball you might not have known.  It did have more sweetness than regular meatballs but it had a similar texture and was a bold attempt.

Chef: Paul DI Bari 

Meatball Vitals: Polpettine, Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


Here we have the biggest meatball and possibly the best.  Pane Panelle gave us a traditional Italian meatball in a tomato sauce.  It sounds simple but not everyone can make a good Italian meatball.  These were by far some of the best we have ever had.  The meatball was huge and moist and seasoned to perfection.  It was then topped by homemade tomato sauce that tasted like your grandmother made it after salving over the stove for hours.  They then finished it all off with some pecorino romano cheese, we were in heaven.  We have about 5 of these and each one was so good.  These were one of our favorite meatballs, but was it the best?

Who was the best?

This was such a great event, we had awesome food and great beer.  After we sampled all of the offers for the blog we found ourselves chowing down on our favorite balls and washing them down with our favorite beers.  We did not get a chance to document all of the beers at the event but our favorites were the Golden Monkey and the Sasion.  We bet you are wondering which meatball was our favorite.  We found it very hard to choose just one.  Our top five in no particular order were from 4food, Pane Panelle, Manchester Pub, Little Town and Kupersmith.

It is hard to judge different styles of meatballs because they all offer something different but we did narrow our favorite down to two options.  The battle came down to The Manchester Pub's Fried pork, bacon and Cheddar, meatball Vs. Pane Panelle's Traditional Italian meatball.  We loved the deep fried balls of flavor from the Manchester Pub.  They had everything you could want in a meatball.  Crispy outside, salty inside and huge flavors.  Pane Panelle created the perfect Italian meatball which is something we can't get enough of.  In the end though we had to go with The Manchester Pub.

We loved the meatball from Pane Panelle and we will most definitely be going there to get as many meatballs as we can afford but the Manchester Pub takes home the Should Eat Award from us.  We can't say anything else about these meatballs except you have to try them, but interestingly enough that is where the problem is.

We mentioned we were speaking with the guys from Manchester Pub trying to see how they serve these meatball in their restaurant.  We figured they served them as a slider, but what shocked us is the response we got.  The Manchester Pub does not even have these on their menu.  We looked at them stunned, these were the best meatballs we had eaten all day and it was not even on their menu.  After about a minute of silence we had finally comprehended what they said and suggested that they better add them to the menu ASAP. We can only hope they have already or plan to very soon because they need to be eaten by everyone.

This event was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon and we suggest that everyone check out Thrillist and all of the events they have.  We know we will be checking out more of these events in the future. Click Here to Sign Up for Thrillist