Whether on top of spaghetti all covered with cheese or sandwiched between slices of challah, meatballs are the main attraction at homegrown chef Bernie Matz’s (Bernie’s L.A. Cafe, The Cafe at Books & Books on Lincoln Road) New York-style restaurant, The Meatball Joint. Pair all shapes, sizes, and flavors with microbrews on tap, wine, and sides like mama Matz used to make (grits, roasted veggies and pears). Not an empty seat in the house? Try making this yourself.
Greek-Style Lamb Meatball Wraps with Tzatziki Sauce
For the meatballs
½ lb. ground beef
½ lb. ground lamb
¼ c. finely chopped scallions
½ c. chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. dried ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 c. bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
Ground black pepper
1. Put beef and lamb in a bowl. Toss in scallions, spices, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Add the egg to the mixture.
2. Work everything together thoroughly with your hands, then cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for half an hour.
3. Scoop out a tablespoon and roll in your hands to form a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. (Dampen hands in cold water to prevent them from getting too sticky to roll.)
4. When you are ready to cook, heat ½ inch of oil in a frying pan. Line another baking sheet with a paper towel. When the oil is hot, fry the meatballs in batches without overcrowding the pan. Cook about 1 minute per side or until golden brown all over. Remove from oil and drain on the baking sheet.
For the sauce
16 oz. plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
5-6 mint leaves, finely minced
Salt to taste
1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
8 12-in. flour wraps
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 tomato, chopped
1 sm. red onion, chopped
1. Place four lamb meatballs in the center of the wrap. Sprinkle crumbled feta, chopped tomatoes, and onion over the balls.
2. Drizzle 2 oz. of tzatziki sauce over the top.
3. Fold the wrap into a tight pouch. Cut in half and serve with more tzatziki on the side.
The Meatball Joint, 1570 Alton Road, Miami Beach (305-695-9441 or themeatballjoint.com).
Photo: Bernie Matz / Courtesy of The Meatball Joint