By Bobbie Katz

Every so often, something comes along that gives an “F” word a whole new vibe. So it goes with the Meatball Spot, in Town Square, which is the epitome of Fantastic Food, Flavor, Family, Friends, and Fun while taking the Formal out of dining and keeping the Fair in prices -- all of which explains why so many are visiting this new hotspot with such great Frequency.

The new restaurant’s success is thanks to the culinary talents of celebrity chef Carla Pellegrino, who says that the basic element of the eatery is its great fare. And delicious it is, not to mention plentiful, both in terms of menu items and portion size. Everything from a large variety of meatballs to salads, sandwiches, pizzas, mac and cheese, pasta, milkshakes, and ice cream sandwiches are served in an inviting atmosphere that entices folks from celebrities to families. There is an open kitchen where guests can watch pizzas being made, a handsome bar in the center of the dining room for those who desire alcoholic beverages, and music playing but not blaring. For those who like to eat outdoors, there is even an open-air patio.

“Meatball Spot has a comfortable environment that’s not geared to any specific group,” Pellegrino notes. “It becomes like home for people – we like to serve family-style. I think that my presence also males a big difference because I come out and say hi to our guests and ask them how they’re enjoying the food. Plus, we have a smiling friendly staff. It’s casual dining, which is the key to people coming back. People only look for formal dining for special occasions. You don’t need an excuse to come here; it’s a day-by-day place, which is why it has become a hangout for people from every walk of life, including celebrities. I see the same faces three to four times a week.”

Pellegrino, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Portuguese father and a second-generation Italian mother who had a catering business, grew up in Italy. By the time she was 10, she was cooking daily for her family and helping with her mother’s business and when she was 16, she moved to Liguria, Italy, where she opened a small shop and did cooking demonstrations every day. Upon moving to the United States in 1997, she attended the French Culinary Institute in New York graduating with honors in 2000.

Her cuisine is American Italian, actually East Coast Brooklyn Italian, and you can smell the delectable tomato sauce when you walk in the door.

“The Brazilian part of me enriches my culinary side,” Pellegrino says, talking about her recipes. “Brazilian food is very much soul food, a mixture of Portuguese and French cuisine. Attending the French Culinary Institute enriched my entrees. Italian can be a little boring when it comes to entrees. French food is more flavorful and requires a little butter.

“I start with olive oil and put in a little butter,” she continues. “I use tons of fresh basil, thyme, sage and a lot of rosemary. I’m very easy on garlic because they don’t use much of it in Italy and it can be hard to digest. I use garlic for aroma.”

Meatball Spot opened at the end of September and became an instant celebrity hotspot. Pellegrino, who is part owner of the restaurant, reveals that the concept came about two years ago when she left her position as executive chef at Rao’s at Caesars Palace and that the idea for Meatball Spot started with her partner’s wife.

“Rao’s was more formal and always went with authentic Italian cuisine,” Pellegrino acknowledges. “Some of the items on the menu were duck meatballs and fish mousse meatballs. We live in America and deal in America so we wanted something that was more accessible to everyone. So Meatball Spot was born. I’ve been given all the freedom I need to deal with the kitchen. Everything is fresh and made from scratch. My signature dish is the traditional beef, pork, and veal meatball. But I’m proud of everything here.

“ I give a lot of credit to the designers for the comfortable atmosphere,” she adds. “People come in here and their shoulders go down instead of up – they can relax, have a milkshake, and even watch TV and games. We thought of everyone. We want to give people something else to look at and the open kitchen where they can see the pizza being made is like being in Grandma’s house.”

All the better to enjoy great food with, my dears.

This article appears by courtesy of Vegas Insider


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