It's just another day for co-owners Mike Chernow (general manager) and Dan Holzman (executive chef) of The Meatball Shop, making meatballs, serving meatballs and--well, a given--telling (meat) ball jokes. The handsomely witty duo took some time out to chat with us about their delectable, soul-soothing specialty and share their personal favorite eats around the city (other than their own meatballs, of course).
Was there a specific incident that made you decide to go for it and open The Meatball Shop?
Mike: Yes, the fact that all the other ideas we had did not work...
Dan: I think it was during the Sunday Night investor dinners on Mike's roof when we realized we had something worth going for.
Were there other single category foods that you thought about tentpoling a restaurant on?
Mike: Nope, nothing else aside from the balls... We had one mind set: balls, balls, balls.
Dan: I remember considering fried chicken. I always wanted to open a fried chicken joint. I guess the timing just wasn't right for that.
How many ball jokes get bantered about during the average day?
Mike: Nonstop, all day long, never gets old. There are only a few topics that keep people laughing consistently, balls and farts... fun.
Dan: Seven ball jokes per day on average. If you wanna make me laugh, you gotta be clever at this point.
Which ball is your favorite?
Dan: I love them all, but I am a strong advocate for the spicy pork.
Mike: I have to agree with my partner here. The spicy pork are our simplest balls--only five ingredients, but so delicious.
How many meatballs do you think you each have eaten since opening up The Meatball Shop?
Mike: I would say roughly about 1800 to date.
Dan: I'm just getting started, probably somewhere in the 2,500 meatball range.
What are you favorite late-night bites?
Mike: Nothing better than a slice of piping hot pizza. I love to eat Artichoke late night. I also love going to Veselka for the cold borscht after hours.
Dan: Boca Bon Chon for the Korean fried chicken is my go to.
What are your favorite late-night pairings?
Mike: Crispy french fries and ketchup with an ice-cold root beer
Dan: Shot of Jack Daniel's and an ice-cold bottle of Budweiser
What are your favorite things to eat between two buns... other than your balls?
Mike: I love the Spotted Pig burger.
Dan: I'm always down to stop at a Halal truck and grab a grilled chicken kabob on a hot dog bun with that spicy sauce they have.
Where do you like to hang out on the nightlife scene?
Mike: Not much of a hanger-outer these days [because I'm] married with three businesses. If you would've asked me around seven years ago, the list would have been annoyingly long and obnoxious.
Dan: You might find me at Lit on Second Avenue or Maison Premiere if I'm feeling fancy on my way home.
The Meatball Shop - Lower East Side
84 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
The Meatball Shop - Williamsburg
170 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211