This week, St. Louis lost its collective mind over the official announcement that, yes, IKEA is really coming to St. Louis. The opening date is projected for 2015.
One of the things folks are most excited about are the Swedish meatballs available in the chain's inexpensive cafeterias. In one report, someone went so far as to suggest that meatballs will replace toasted ravioli as the "finger food of choice for St. Louis."
WHOA. Let's not go losing our heads here. Besides, it'll be at least two years until the store is open, and guess what? There are a ton of great meatball options you can try right here, right now. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Italian-style meatballs Whether served on a bed of spaghetti or in the maw of a hoagie roll, there are a ton of great options.
1. Sugo's Spaghetteria (10419 Clayton Road, Frontenac; 314-569-0400) So good we named them one of 100 best dishes in St. Louis: "Exactly two meatballs, to be precise, each about the size of a tennis ball. The interior is tender not only at the center but also, remarkably, not too far underneath the browned surface. The seasoning is mild, unobtrusive."
2. Adriana's (5101 Shaw Avenue; 314-773-3833) Adriana's has been hand-rolling its famous meatballs for more than twenty years, and it's safe to say it has got this thing down to an art. We declared its meatball and salsiccia sandwich to be the must-order item on the menu when we crowned Adriana's one of the best, inexpensive Italian restaurants in St. Louis.
3. Filomena's Italian Kitchen (9900 Manchester Road, Glendale; 314-961-9909) Although the arancini are to die for, don't leave without a package of its homemade meatballs under your arm. Rich, meaty and served with a bright, garlicky marinara, this is the best way to bring an Italian grandmother's kitchen home to your own.
4. J Greene's Pub (10017 Manchester Road, Warson Woods; 314-394-2330) When RFT food critic Cheryl Baehr gave J Greene's a rave review earlier this year, she had so many good things to say that she didn't have room to mention the housemade meatballs, available both as a sandwich and on spaghetti. One might be skeptical of meatballs from a pub, but it's an old family recipe handed down to the chef from his Italian mother.
Mai Lee (8396 Musick Memorial Drive, Brentwood; 314-645-2835) Top chefs all over St. Louis swear by Mai Lee's pho, but we have a more specific recommendation -- the pho tai bo vien or the pho bo vien, both rich and fragrant beef-based soups with rice noodles and dense, flavorful meatballs. This is hardly "finger food" -- grab some chopsticks and a spoon and get ready to make a mess.
Plush (3224 Locust Street; 314-535-2686) BLASPHEMY! (No, but seriously, these are somehow, magically really delicious.) The resident Gut Check vegetarian Tara Mahadevan, or the "Veggielante," named the meat-free meatball sub at Plush one of the best vegetarian meals in St. Louis. "Two huge meatballs -- fashioned from chickpeas, lentils and brown rice -- sit on a bed of sweet marinara sauce, drizzled in cheese and sandwiched between two huge pieces of bread; a side of classic french fries tops off the dish."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. Email us!
Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.