Atlanta Meatball Festival

This Sunday this Sicilian Meatball headed to the first annual Atlanta Meatball Festival! The wonderful Denise Romeo of We Like 2 Cook invited me along and I am so glad that she did.

This event was held in Sandy Springs at the Belle Isle Square and was produced by Taste of Atlantahosted by Chef Linda Harrell and proceeds went to benefit Open Hand, which is the largest community-based provider of home delivered means and nutrition in the country.

Unlike some events I’ve attended in Atlanta (*cough, Food Truck Fest, cough*) I found this one to be extremely well organized which made it that much more enjoyable. We went right to the media table, grabbed our wrist bands, four drink tickets and a gold coin – which we were told we should give our favorite meatball!

The event was small compared to the Attack of the Killer Tomato Fest (review can be found here) but that in no way was a bad thing. It was under one large tent with the food venders lining the outer walls, tables in the middle and a space for a band.

Now, I never thought I’d say this because I like to think of myself as open-minded when it comes to food but I discovered on Sunday that there are some foods that just are better left in their most traditional form.

I hate myself for saying it.
I really do.
I really, really do.

But I stand by it.

Case in point?

Dates and meatballs don’t mix. Sorry.
Tuna meatballs…are technically meatballs but…I just…I couldn’t get behind it.
Putting an “Asian” flare on an Italian food isn’t a flare, is a complete reinvention of the concept.
Buffalo chicken meatballs and blue cheese grits?! Goodness.

I mean – kudos to all the restaurants that really went out on a limb and tried to invent something new. They were all innovative and original, but I’ll always go back to a traditional meatball. I can’t help it. I love it. It’s best in its original and intended form. All meat. All ball. All covered in sauce. SORRY I’M NOT SORRY.

The restaurant to get my gold coin was No. 246, which served a traditional veal meatball topped with cheese and basil. Perfection. I immediately tasted the recipe my grandmother gave me. I noticed there were many people going back for seconds, and I may have been one of them.

Oh, and because we all know how on point and phenomenal my taste is, No. 246 was one of the winners who will go on to compete in the Meatball Throw Down during Taste of Atlanta along with Cibo E Beve (pictured above – their meatball was served on a mascarpone polenta and was my second choice) and Timone’s.

A tip of the hat to those at Taste of Atlanta for their first attempt at the Atlanta Meatball Festival. Well done. If I could hug you all I would. I think there’s plenty of room on the jam packed calendar of food fests for another Meatball Festival and I can’t wait to come back next year!

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