For New Jersey Italians, every family has their own meatball recipe. Though many keep their secret sauces and ingredients in the family, one new restaurant wants to share them with guests. Lotsa Balls in Metuchen proudly serves meatballs reminiscent of the ones Italian wives and grandmothers have been making for decades.
Choosing the Metchen location didn’t take much effort; it’s also where a sister restaurant, the intimate old-school Italian spot Civile Cucina Italiana, has been for seven years. “With both places being so different, we have the luxury of not competing with ourselves,” says co-owner Jason Penedos. Lotsa Balls occupies former restaurant Novita’s old space, and seats about 120 indoors and 25 to 30 on the patio.
Lotsa Balls, and Ways to Serve ‘Em
To match the name of the restaurant, the Lotsa Balls décor resembles a 70s and 80s retro sports den. For example, you’ll find vintage sporting equipment and trophies throughout the venue. Meanwhile, the “grandma-style” living room displays a wall full of VHS tapes; not to mention a vintage TV, couch, tray tables, and Nintendo system. A collage of 70s and 80s baseball cards adorns a wall in the men’s restroom.
“The vibe here is super cool and fun,” says Penedos; which is why they offer games like Connect 4 and Jenga, as well as an 80s pop music playlist.
Lotsa Food Options
Of course, the main attractions at Lotsa Balls are the meatballs. The signature Sicilian meatballs are made with pignoli nuts and raisins in their famous Pomodoro sauce; then topped with fresh ricotta and parmesan, and served with garlic bread. In fact, the recipe comes from Pedenos’ late grandmother. (With some minor changes put in by chef and co-owner Jimmy Katims.)
Other tasty menu items include hot sausage and broccolini balls, Jumbo lump crab cake balls, and chicken and spinach balls. But if you’re not in the mood for meatballs, they also offer sandwiches, salads, and sides. You can click here to see the full menu.
With so much focus on meatballs, you might think Lotsa Balls is lacking in desserts. However, all of them are made in house from scratch, and “they’re far from an afterthought,” says Pedenos. Pastry chef and co-owner Juan Zaldivar is in charge of desserts, such as the signature Mascarpone cheesecake.
All Photos: © Lotsa Balls / Website