By Elizabeth SanFilippo
In Italy, meatballs are never served with spaghetti. In Chicago, you’ll be able to find meatballs any way you like them, whether it’s in a bed of spaghetti, in between two slices of bread or just on their own. These five Chicago restaurants place their own delicious spin on your favorite ball of meat.
1120 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Named one of the 50 best sandwiches by Chicago Magazine, the meatball sub at Bari is simple but oh so tasty. Smothered in marinara and placed in a crusty roll, it doesn’t get better than this. But this grocery store and deli gets busy come lunch time, so get there early (or call in your order). Meatball sandwiches start at just $4.50 a pop.
It’s all about the fabulous meatball on this west side food truck. Despite strict city restrictions on cooking food in a food truck, every meatball on the truck’s recipe packs a wonderful punch. And it’s no surprise why: they’re based on traditional family recipes. Options often include polpetta panino (meatball sandwich), polpetta del’ouva (a vegetarian “meatball” sandwich”), meatball sliders with grilled onions, pickles and cheese and sloppy spicy meatball sandwich on a kaiser roll. Owner Anna Caterinicchia is constantly coming up with new delicious creations so check the website often. Track where the truck is located on Twitter.
Related: Best Italian Food in Chicago
Panozzo’s Italian Market
1303 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
Popularized by Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” this deli has been offering delicious Italian eats long before the celebrity chef stopped by. One of the most popular sandwiches is the hefty meatball sub, which is made with pork and topped with a big dose of tomato sauce as well as aged pecorino, parm cream and pickled chiles. For just $10, it’s worth stopping into this South Loop hot spot.
Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market St.
Chicago, IL 60607
No matter which way you slice that meat, Paul Kahan’s Publican Quality Meats has a sandwich for everyone, as well as a ton of top-notch meats in the deli case. One particular favorite is the meatball sandwich, which is one of the few staples on the menu. While the fixings often change, expect loads of flavor. Sometimes the balls are made with lamb and other times they’re made with pork. But they’re always smothered in a delicious spicy sauce and with such toppings as onions, peppers and cheese. Grab this mouthwatering sandwich for just $8.
52 W. Illinois St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Bill and Giuliana Rancic may be the owners of this River North hot spot, along with Lettuce Entertain You, but it’s the food here that should draw you in. In true Italian style, Chef Doug Psaltis serves meatballs as a stand-alone antipasti dish, but these are no ordinary balls. Smothered in chunky tomato sauce, baked in the wood-fire oven and made with prime beef, you may need to place more than one order, even if they’re priced at $9. While these mouthwatering meatballs definitely stand alone, you can also get them in a spaghetti and meatball dish for $16.
Related: Best Italian Sausage in Chicago
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.