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Restaurants

Hey Meatball

Posted by Ryan Spencer / Reviewed on September 23, 2011 / review policy

Hey MeatballHey Meatball just rolled in as the latest restaurant addition to Little Italy, located near the intersection of College and Crawford. As you probably guessed, meatballs are the main dish and focal point. Chef Rodney Bowers, formerly of The Citizen and The Rosebud, brings a new offering that goes beyond the pizzerias and red sauces that dot this stretch.

House-made jarred veggies line the walls as does eclectic images of Chef Bowers professing the quality of his, ahem, balls. The counter service may put some off but I thought it was a casual approach that keeps with the down home feel of the space .

Hey MeatballThe house-made Ginger-Ale ($3) definitely had bite and was not for the faint of heart - this ain't no Canada Dry. A Strawberry Cream Soda ($3) is also offered to satiate your sweet tooth.

Hey MeatballAs a vegetarian option, eggplant and ricotta 'meatballs' ($11) were served over a plate of polenta and drizzled with a parmesan cream. The polenta was cooked perfectly and, coupled with the sauce, was a real knock out in flavor and consistency. Unfortunately, this posed a problem for the veggie meatballs which had a tacky quality and lacked enough flavour. I felt they were overwhelmed by the rest of the dish. But, with that said, I'd still get it again just for the polenta.

Hey MeatballOf course we had to order the meatball sandwich, appropriately called The Godfather ($11), which was accompanied by a small chopped salad. Created with the "holy trinity of pork, veal and beef," the meatballs were delicious and stood above what you might find stewing all day down the street. And on a small side note, the knife work on the chopped vegetables in the salad maybe a small detail but showed the high caliber and attention to detail Chef Bower's is committed to serving.

What's unique to Hey Meatball is the family friendly space and Chef Bower's ability to serve upscale comfort food that's still approachable and familiar. Since it's still a soft opening, most dishes were prepared to order which insured quality but also a slight backlog during the dinner rush.

Hey MeatballThe grand opening will be next week with the unveiling of the full menu and hopefully their organic soft serve ice cream ($3). Apparently, the full menu will allow you to choose which type of meatball (veal, turkey, beef, or veggie), sauce (pesto, marinara, or alfredo), and side (risotto, polenta, or pasta).

Photos by Peter Henderson

Discussion

36 Comments

frijoles refritos / September 23, 2011 at 10:19 am
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Ryan is possibly the only writer at BlogTO that can write a proper restaurant review. He can actually expound the flavour, texture, and execution of the food with reasonable knowledge and detail.

Thanks, and keep it up.
Whoa / September 23, 2011 at 06:56 pm
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I love meatballs! Swedish meatballs! The Rosebud is/was awesome too.

And while I'm sure they taste okay, those veggie meatballs + polenta could not look more unappealing. It looks like a plate of baby vomit studded with cheese-coated owl pellets.

Jeff / September 23, 2011 at 07:45 pm
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Just a word of warning. According to Chowhound reviews, Hey Meatball from time to time has been serving the sandwich on a much smaller brioche bun and people have mentioned that it is definitely not worth $11. If they serve it on the french bread as above it looks pretty good. You might want to verify before ordering!
Delores / September 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm
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Ever thought the post on Chowhound might be wrong?
Piper / September 26, 2011 at 05:14 pm
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Yeah, verify the style of bread they have. I have also seen the 2 sandwich sizes they have for the same price, be warned that the brioche slider is not a good value for $11
lauro / September 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm
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Ate the Godfather last night. Outstanding! A perfect harmony in taste, texture and the sauce was the best I've had. This is a definite must eat. Forget the comment above about the bread. Ours was not french bread?
Kevin / September 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm
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So so so good! I love this place!
cindy / October 3, 2011 at 06:28 pm
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Can't wait to freaking try this place. I have heard only good things, and my sister let me have a bite of her sandwich last week and itt was amazing! Welcome to the neighbourhood, I knew the inconvenience store wouldn't last long.
Jeff replying to a comment from Delores / October 9, 2011 at 11:59 am
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Yeah, I am sure people on Chowhound are just making up stories about different size sandwiches just to cause trouble for this new restaurant. That makes a lot more sense than what I posted originally. Thanks for the insight.
GM / October 14, 2011 at 10:52 am
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I'm torn - I ate here last night and did really enjoy the meatball sandwhich. The actual meatballs were delicious and the sauce tasted homemade.

My issues come with the rest of the meal/atmosphere. I don't know I guess I was expecting more after visiting a similar style place in NYC....but Hey Meatball really needs to work on their sides. They only had one option, which was a tiny salad containing lettuce, carrots and a couple red peppers. No other side options. I recognize that it is a new restaurant and the full menu isn't available yet, but maybe that's the problem. I think it would have made more sense to open with a full menu and being fully licensed.

I think with the current menu offerings, this is a good lunch spot if you are in the area. As a dinner option, well....I left hungry and ate again a few hours later.

Overall great quality food, smallish portions, blah atmosphere. That being said, I will likely go back to try it again once they have a full menu available.
liz / October 22, 2011 at 11:55 am
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My hubby and I ate at Hey Meatball a week or so ago and probably won't go back. The meatballs were very yummy but the portions were ridiculously small. Nothing like paying for overprice counter service and still needing to get a second meal.
Shut up / October 22, 2011 at 06:05 pm
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Small portion? Really? You're a bunch of fatasses
joey / October 24, 2011 at 02:42 pm
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small portion, no big deal, have had much better flavour and value for food in neighborhood. can't really say this concept can have staying power on college
Jeff / November 8, 2011 at 01:09 pm
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Place got really bad reviews by Amy Pataki of The Star. I posted a link before but the post got deleted. Google it to find it.
Jompy / November 15, 2011 at 09:08 am
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Ate there last night and really really liked it a lot. My only complaint (minor considering lack of evidence of the plate, cleaned to a shine) is that the chicken meatballs were a bit dense. I know its hard to work with chicken in this context on account of its low fat content, but they were a touch on the tough side. Like I said, its a minor complaint and that they were sitting in some of the tastiest mashed taters and gravy I've ever crammed in my mouth made it easier to forgive. A bit on the pricey side, but still a nice addition to an ever changing hood. I shall return.
je je je / November 22, 2011 at 11:18 am
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This place was brutal. I totally agreed with The Star's review of it, if you have one thing on your menu you'd better do it really well. The meatballs sucked and the (counter) service was unprofessional.
Hepman replying to a comment from je je je / November 22, 2011 at 03:45 pm
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Maybe if the meatballs are not to your liking, jejeje, you should have considered whipping one at the unprofessional counter service. That would give them some incentive to improve, don't you think? SPLAT!
cindy replying to a comment from je je je / November 25, 2011 at 01:05 pm
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The meatballs do not suck. They are outstanding, despite how you feel about any other aspect of this business. Your an idiot. Thats my opinion.
hacer / November 30, 2011 at 10:40 am
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This may be this blogs best read I have ever seen...
Cam / December 4, 2011 at 02:54 pm
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'ridiculously small' is a pretty far stretch. But for the cost it's not a whole lot of food. It is delicious though.

Also, the menu has recently been updated.
kimj / December 7, 2011 at 12:07 am
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ok meatballs, typical price range maybe tad high for product, poor/no service, can't wait till 'grunge' and 'restaurant' don't go together anymore.
marvin replying to a comment from kimj / December 7, 2011 at 08:54 am
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Can't agree with you more, kimj. I've had the oil changed in my car at places that looked better than HEY.
Roshan / December 16, 2011 at 07:44 am
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I'd love to have a nice little joint like this where I live. Toronto is so cool.
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Thankfully some bloggers can write. Thanks for this article.
Matt / January 11, 2012 at 03:20 pm
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I went to a Brixton (clothing line from California) party a few weeks ago and they were catering it. It was really tasty food.
tarot Canarias / January 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm
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Terrific piece of writing!
Desi / January 13, 2012 at 03:52 am
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Thank god some bloggers can still write. My thanks for this post!!
treehouse / January 13, 2012 at 09:24 am
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This makes great sense!
tbone / February 7, 2012 at 05:10 pm
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I live close to this place and have been more than a few times. I gotta say, the abovenoted Toronto Star article is the total opposite of my experiences there. It's been phenomenal every time I've visited.
Comments about the service are misleading as well. It's just more of a laid-back Ossington feel than typical Little Italy.
I bet you a dollar you'll like it here.
Bewafa / February 8, 2012 at 02:22 am
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Some instructional blog.
Kirboni / December 18, 2012 at 04:33 am
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I had high hopes for the place. Although the food was fine (average at best) the portion sizes are ridiculously small. 10$ for a scoop of mashed potatoes and three small meatballs is embarrassing. No wonder why this place is empty everytime I walk by.
FBOLT / April 9, 2013 at 11:42 am
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Delicious meatballs, but way too pricey. Paid $12 for a bowl of spaghetti and 3 medium size beef meatballs. Are you crazy?! They were good, but not that good. Staff was friendly and professional. I asked for dried chili flakes and they didn't have any! I need my pasta with some sort of kick to it.
Their homemade cream soda was also delicious. But again, $3, for a small soda!?
I realize this is a trendy place and in downtown Toronto, but I don't see how they'll have returning customers with these prices.
Kirsty / October 18, 2013 at 11:03 am
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Food from the new Leslieville location was SUCH a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT. I ordered spaghetti with chicken meatballs and the meatballs were inedible. Nothing you would expect in regards to moisture, flavour or texture. It was like biting into a ball of dry newspaper.
Jay / October 27, 2013 at 09:36 pm
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I saw this place on Diners, Drive in and Dives. Thought it must be good to be on the show. Service here was terrible, meatballs were tiny! All in all a waste of my hard earned money.
suzan / December 9, 2013 at 07:32 pm
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Unbelievable...Front staff ignorant and rude and the chef without question an apprentice. These two were running the restaurant without no supervision from the owner. It's not our first time visiting this restaurant but I tell you IT IS THE LAST. Even though the place wasn't busy, we had to wait for our meal at least thirty five minutes. What we got was cold and raw spaghetti, extremely dry and tasteless mac and cheese, the non toasted bread with a chunk of butter, and the root vegetables just boiled and served in their own juice...Disgusting... I took the spaghetti to the chef to show him the raw pink meatball and all he could say "ARE U SURE??? I AM SORRY" We had to run out so my daughter could throw up. Sorry guys. You are disgusting!!!
Brian / August 17, 2014 at 05:09 pm
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Loving the good vibes on episode on Guy's 3-D Looking to try the recipe at home first

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