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Here's the Early Word on Michel Richard's Meatballs

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R. Lopez

Meatballs, the new meatball-centric fast-casual restaurant that Michel Richard is more-or-less behind, opened less than two weeks ago in Penn Quarter amid an insane amount of hype. Many a Yelper, blogger and Eater reader has passed through its ball-adorned walls and weighed in on the service, the price point and, of course, the meatballs themselves. Was it worth all the hype? Here's the early word:

The Good But Pricey News: An Eater commenter writes that "the balls were indeed meaty and delicious..curiously...or not ... a woman stationed at the end of the counter overseeing operations made it a point to make sure that i knew this was 'michel richards food' and what an amazing 'deal' to be able to score it at these prices... which was all good until i realized kinda ironically ....they had overcharged me.." [Eater Comments]

The Mostly Bad News: Another Eater commenter would have gone to Luke's Lobster instead: "I went today and the line was out the door. The big dude behind the counter with the tattoo on his neck asked me what I wanted then proceeded to ignore me and take other peoples orders. I kept moving down as other peoples orders were made. I made the assumption that they knew what they were doing so I didnt say anything until I got almost to the cash register and someone finally asked me what I was having. The meat balls were OK. The trash was overflowing and there was no place to put the trays. Think I would have done better at the lobster joint next door." [Eater Comments]

The Really Bad News: One reviewer created a Yelp account specifically to bitch about their Meatballs experience: "Seriously just awful and disappointing. My friends and I had three dishes in different configurations: grinder, pasta, and salad. Everyone disliked their food, no one's food looked appetizing, and the customer service was poor. The portions were WAY small for the cost, and no one behind the counter knew or cared about the food. Atmosphere is nonexistent." [Yelp]

The Bad Michel Richard News: More than one Yelp review mentions some disappointment in the restaurant given Michel Richard's involvement, including this one: "Even the greats strike out every now and then, eh Michel? I'm almost sad to give a Michel Richard restaurant a paltry two stars but, man, he deserves 'em. Maybe it's not THE Michel Richard behind this place...maybe it's some Albanian imposter trying to feeload off the name? How can the man behind one of the best culinary experiences in my lifetime at Citronelle be responsible for Meatballs?" [Yelp]

The Good Michel Richard News: DC Style is Real also checked out Meatballs and came to the opposite conclusion about Michel Richard's involvement: "Is this really a Michel Richard restaurant? Are the meatballs really going to live up to the restaurant’s name? In my opinion, yes and yes. This is Michel Richard’s third DC restaurant, and for my budget, the only one I’ll be able to frequent with any regularity." [DC Style Is Real]

The Food Critic News: The Washington City Paper's Chris Shott went to Meatballs on its first full day of service and concludes that while he's not crazy about the bread, at least the meatballs taste like meat. [WCP]

The Mostly Good News: Most of the Foursquare tips for Meatballs are positive, such as this one: "Winning combination: classic balls, creamy polenta, mushroom sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, collard greens. Like a creamy bowl of stew. With balls." But, then again, there's another tip that describes Meatballs as an "epic fail." [Foursquare]

The Great News: Though this Yelper also notes some kinks to be worked out, the review falls squarely in the positive category: "I haven't even gotten to the most important thing, which was how the balls tasted! The lamb was an A, spicy and tender, and the classic an A+, with all the meatball flavors you'd expect, only elevated somewhere transcendent. Red pepper and marinara sauces complimented them well, as did hot peppers and fresh, melty mozzarella. The collards were as richly smoky as the ones available in Harlem's best soul-food joints." [Yelp]

The Rave: By far the most enthusiastic of all the Yelp reviews, this one makes predictions for Meatballs: "I am dreading how busy this place will be at lunch, because the food is fantastic, I foresee a lot of foot traffic! While standing in line I composed my next order: lamb meatball grinder with tandori sauce and extra hot peppers. Or maybe I should try the mini order of that on the scrumpous little buns I saw? I will change my mind twice more while standing in line, the possibilities are many!" [Yelp]


626 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20004 202 393 1083


626 E St, NW, Washington, DC