Strolling down Tinker St. one day, after lunch at the Garden Cafe (just to affirm that I am an equal-opportunity eater), I suddenly found myself on a sidewalk that smelled just like my Sicilian mother's kitchen on Sunday afternoon. That means it smelled like "gravy," or, for those of you from outside the world of New York/New Jersey Italian America, like a big pot of delicious tomato sauce full of meat. I immediately started to drool, and turned to find the source of this heavenly aroma. There it was: the doorway to "Sharkie's Meatballs." I went in and met Mark, who's pretty much a one man show in there (and who is cranking out an heroic amount of beef and pork, chicken, turkey, AND chick pea meatballs on a daily basis). I told him that his store smelled like my Sicilian mother's kitchen, and that only the fact that I was chock-full of my vegan lunch from the GC was keeping me from devouring some of his meatballs on the spot. But I vowed to return, and return I did. One week later, I treated myself to a beef-and-pork (i.e., classic) meatball hero. I had high hopes because of that smell, and man were they fulfilled. These are as good as any meatballs I've ever had. And PLEASE believe me when I tell you I would never say anything like this lightly. I mean, we're talking meatballs here, people: this is serious business. They were the perfect balance between firm and soft, had great flavor, and the sauce was savory and fresh
tasting. Mark also slips his mozzarella right on the bun and piles the meatballs (three big ones) on top. A genius move, as the cheese melts perfectly, but doesn't fall off or come off in your first bite. Of course, after I finished this amazing sandwich, I had to submit this dude (who is totally chanelling somebody's Italian mother) to a rigorous discussion of meatball basics. Bread versus bread crumbs? (Bread: check.) Sugar in the sauce? (No: check.) And so on. . . . In short: mouth-wateringly perfect meat balls are to be had in Woodstock. I've yet to try the others (including the chick-pea, which Mark says is his second biggest seller), but I will. This is perfect comfort food, for virtually anyone with any kind of dietary preferences. And anyone who makes as many meatballs as Mark does, day in and day out, is a SAINT and deserves the big love. Go.
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