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Meatball Madness

Where To Find the Ultimate Comfort Food

Meatballs are meatballs, right? Well, not when they’re in the hands of Giada De Laurentiis. At The Cromwell, she’s rolling two non-conventional versions—one stuffed with orzo and another, a chicken-marsala meatball accompanied with cherry tomatoes and roasted wild mushrooms.

Of her orzo meatball, De Laurentiis chuckles, “It’s got pasta in it. It’s kind of traditional.”

You will, however, find true traditional meatballs, like Buca Café Italiano’s huge half-pounder, all over the city with differences ever so slight. Most, of course, are based on a family recipe that’s been passed down and perfected over the years. Steve Martorano simplified this fact to Jimmy Kimmel: “Everybody’s mother makes meatballs. My mother made the best. Your mother made the best. That’s the way it is.”

While Martorano soaks day-old Italian bread in water and drains it to make his meatballs moist, Glenn Rolnick, corporate chef for Carmine’s, says his secret to a tender, flavorful dish is to hand-roll and hand-mix two parts ground beef chuck and one part ground veal “to keep the texture lighter.”

THE MEATBALL MASTERS:

GIADA THE CROMWELL
Martorano’s PARIS LAS VEGAS/RIO ALL-SUITE HOTEL & CASINO
Rao’s CAESARS PALACE
Carmine’s THE FORUM SHOPS AT CAESARS
Buca Café Italiano BALLY’S LAS VEGAS

Rao’s Frank Pellegrino, Jr., says making meatballs is easy. Use the best ingredients available and add some love. “The secret to making anything good—whether it’s in the kitchen or in life—is love. You have to love what you’re doing. Everything about the food we do is made with nothing but love that has been passed on from generation to generation. It’s how you feel when you’re putting it together.”

PHOTOGRAPHED ON LOCATION AT GIADA IN THE CROMWELL
PHOTOGRAPH BY SABIN ORR

About The Author

Ryan Slattery grew up in Boston. It wasn’t until he moved to Las Vegas in 2003 that the city’s sports teams started winning championships—eight since he left. Now, he’s only allowed back to visit. Ryan is the managing editor of Vegas Player magazine and also writes about travel, entertainment and dining for a number of national publications.

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