Comfort Food at Motor City Meatball Kitchen

By: Amber Ogden | June 19, 2015
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When it comes to comfort foods, there are plenty of classics. Spaghetti and meatballs, for example. What is more soothing than a huge dish of pasta topped with meatballs, a food that everyone knows and loves?

Meatballs are whipped up and served in a variety of dishes at the Motor City Meatball Kitchen, 31081 Hayes Rd., Warren, where you’ll find beef, chicken and vegetarian meatballs atop pasta, in sandwiches, even on salads.

The Motor City Meatball Kitchen, which opened last September, is a unique concept, and an incredibly tasty one at that.

“We were noticing that the ‘fast, casual’ or ‘fresh, fast, casual’ industry was booming, and so we were looking at the market and we noticed that in Europe, in Toronto and on the East Coast, a couple meatball concepts started sprouting up. We thought it’s a quintessential item (that) we can now put our own spin on,” Mary Ann Gualtieri, co-owner of Motor City Meatball Kitchen, said.

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The restaurant is a fast casual concept, but a far cry from fast food. Everything at Motor City Meatball Kitchen is fresh and made in a “scratch kitchen”: all meats are ground in-house, all cheeses are sliced in-house, and salad dressings are homemade.

Ingredients are sourced locally as often as possible, including veggies from the Detroit Produce Terminal, as well as locally sourced beef and dairy. You’ll also find a selection of Better Made chips and Michigan-made pop like Vernors to add to your meal.

Marrying fast casual with meatballs produced a top-notch menu of sandwiches, pastas and salads. According to Gualtieri, the classic beef meatball sandwich with tomato sauce, Provolone cheese, Parmesan cheese and basil-spinach pesto is very popular with first timers. As for pastas, the classic Old World dish is a favorite, with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and, of course, beef meatballs.

“I think that they’re very familiar to people,” Gualtieri said of Motor City Meatball Kitchen’s concept. “Most people know what a meatball is. Almost every culture has some kind of a meatball. We think it’s approachable food, it’s familiar with people and it’s fun.”

Motor City Meatball Kitchen

(Photo provided by Mary Ann Gualtieri of Motor City Meatball Kitchen)

If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Greek sandwich (with chicken meatballs, tomato sauce, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, lettuce, tomato and tzatziki crema), Carbonara pasta (pork meatballs tossed with Alfredo sauce, peas, bacon, roasted tomatoes and Parmesan cheese) or Village salad (chicken meatballs, mixed greens, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, tomato, red onion, cucumber, beets and Greek red wine vinaigrette).

Should you have any dietary restrictions, the Motor City Meatball kitchen can likely accommodate you. The chicken meatballs are gluten free, and there is a vegetarian meatball on the menu, which Gualtieri said is similar in consistency to falafel, and includes sautéed eggplant, caramelized onions and ricotta cheese.

A specialty meatball is featured every month, and before the end of June, make your way to Motor City Meatball Kitchen to sample the mac and cheese meatball, a delicious deep-fried concoction of mac and cheese sauce, diced up meatball and Panko bread crumbs. It’s served with a cheesy tomato sauce, if that helps seal the deal.

Previous specialty meatballs have included lamb meatballs, buffalo chicken style-meatballs, Swedish meatballs and Asian meatballs.

And if you’re not a meatball fan (who isn’t?), you can substitute meatballs on any pasta or salad with pan seared chicken or salmon. The restaurant is also planning to test other menu items, like the Italian Sausage Hoagie that is currently available this month. Instead of meatballs, try Italian sausage on an Asiago cheese hoagie, topped with peppers, onions, Provolone cheese, Parmesan cheese and your choice of classic or spicy tomato sauce.

With a name like Motor City Meatball Kitchen, you may be surprised to learn that the restaurant is located in Warren, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plans for the future.

“We’re hoping that this is going to be our launching pad, and especially having Motor City in our name, we would really like to get into the Detroit proper,” Gualtieri said.

While Motor City Meatball Kitchen is southeast Michigan’s premiere destination for all things meatballs, consider one of the following establishments for additional meatball madness:

  • Dago Joe’s food truck, try the meatball sandwich, meatball plate or meatball slider
  • Bucharest Grill, 2040 Park Ave., Detroit, where you can taste test the meatball salad
  • Nico & Vali, 744 Wing St., Plymouth, order the meatball panini
  • The Root Restaurant & Bar, 340 Town Center Blvd., White Lake, start your meal with the lamb meatball appetizer

This weekend, enjoy a meatball dish in Metro Detroit! For more on the Motor City Meatball Kitchen, visit the official website or Facebook page.