Don’t let the Z in the name and the fun atmosphere fool you. MeatballZ, Inc., located next to the Harkins Theatres at Scottsdale and Shea, is serious about its food.
The “Z” is for Zdravkovski.
When Pittsburgh restaurateur Bob Zdravkovski “retired” to Arizona, he thought he was leaving the restaurant world behind. After some downtime to recharge his batteries, Zdravkovski began to feel the urge that other failed retirees in the Valley have experienced. Fast-forward several months and MeatballZ, Inc. was born.
Walking into MeatballZ, the vibe is a cross between a sports bar and a casual theme restaurant. Signage on the wall reminds you to “grab life by the ballz” and “Save Water, Drink Beer.” Sports play on the TVs throughout the restaurant with one screen above the bar dedicated to providing information on the rotating craft beer list.
The 24 taps feature craft beers from Arizona and nationwide. Aficionados will be happy to see an impressive brewery list and a range of styles from gose to tripel. Bottled options are of the less crafty variety for American Lager fans and also include a couple ciders. The wine list currently includes European and South American varietals for the four red wines, three white wines – including Arizona’s own Dragoon Mountain – and a French rosé.
The name gives away MeatballZ’s specialty, but the appetizers are deserving of headliner status as well. The Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts has the right texture with bacon and garlic providing plenty of additional flavor. The Duck Confit Sliderz will have you leaving the bun behind to enjoy the rich combination of herbed cream cheese and raspberry jam with the shredded confit. The Loaded Fries Bowl is already a crowd favorite with a generous amount of cheese sauce, bacon and scallions.
Ordering your meatballs is straightforward, but the options are endless. First, you select from beef, spicy pork, or chicken. From there, the decisions become more difficult as sauces range from the standard bolognese and marinara to exotic selections like a roux-based bechamel or their “crack sauce” – a smooth buffalo cream sauce with a kick at the finish. Finally, you select whether you want your “ballZ” on their own, as sliders, or as a three-ball grinder.
If, for some reason, you came to MeatballZ, Inc. in the mood for something other than meatballs, you’re in luck. Various bowls are also available as entrees. The Poutine Bowl deserves special mention and was a personal favorite. Fries, mushroom gravy, and cheese curds topped with a single meatball. Canadian visitors have told Zdravkovski he has the best poutine they’ve had outside of their native Quebec. For East Coast transplants like myself, I’m reminded of the late-night diner staple cheese fries with gravy that prevented many a hangover.
After everything we ate, we did not have room for dessert but it was insisted that we try the Warm Ricotta Doughnuts, served with dipping sauces. After one bite, we magically found room and devoured the delicious, tender little doughnuts. Make sure you finish your MeatballZ meal with an order of them.
MeatballZ, Inc. is celebrating its grand opening September 8 with giveaways and specials all day. They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information, visit meatballzinc.com.