If we've learned nothing else from F-B-I agents in the legendary epic Point Break, it's that meatball sandwiches are absolutely delicious (and that Anthony Kiedis is a wonderfully terrible actor). Luckily, there happen to be more than a few great meatball sandwiches (there are 13!) around town that are worth doubling down on.
Remember when we were like, “Dude, you have to check out that newish pizza joint in East Hollywood"? Well, you definitely have to go, because now it's got beer and wine, has a killer new happy hour deal, and the menu's got a freshly added, wood-fired meatball panuozzo.
You’ve probably walked by this understated joint on Vermont dozens of times on your way to the Dresden or Public House, but little did you know that hidden behind that door was an amazing polpettine al pomodoro: flavor-packed meatballs, provolone, sauce, Parm, and fresh basil.
Nestled in a hillside 'hood between Dodger Stadium and the 110 -- once part of a sprawling Downtown Little Italy (yes, we had one!) -- this old-school Italian joint has been serving up some of the best classic sandwiches in LA since just after Grandma Connie was born. While you can't go wrong with the #7 (the best seller, loaded with roast beef, pastrami, and cheese), the move here is the #2: a massive, house-made Italian meatball sandwich served on a flaky roll with peppers, cheese, and marinara sauce.
Mario’s may not have the same notoriety or shine of Bay Cities or Sorrento, but this charming, classic deli has been serving reliable subs, pasta, and other Italian classics since ’61. Served on a massive, fluffy roll, the dense, marinara-soaked meatballs make for a satisfying feast. Also, you NEED to order the house-made cannoli.
Some have argued that AATB makes a better meatball sandwich than Bay Cities (gasp!), but we say... they're both on the level. AATB's version has hearty meatballs served atop provolone, doused with marinara, and dusted with Parmesan on freshly baked, crunchy bread.
Unlike the many marinara-drenched counterparts, the Palate curiously and successfully goes without sauce, delivering formidable handmade balls of beef, pork, and veal, topped with melted mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard aioli on a house-baked hoagie.
Another long-standing Italian institution, you could easily get lost in the aisles of Sorrento, exploring the tempting imports, but stay on target. Head to the back counter to order up a large meatball coated in sauce (excuse us, paisanos, "gravy") on a pillowy-soft Italian loaf. You want double meat? Of course you do.
Sure, you've already had the Godmother and the mac & cheese, but now you’re also gonna have the meatball sandwich. Dense, yet surprisingly soft meatballs deliver a hint of fennel that is properly coated in sweet and tangy house marinara and tucked into that signature golden crusty bread. Pro tip: order ahead online and pick it up in the back.
This old-school SFV spot (since ’59) has all you could crave from a classic Italian deli, including a killer meatball sub, loaded with massively-portioned tender meatballs, covered with house marinara, melted provolone, and served on a sturdy Italian roll.
Tamarind feels like a cozy NY/NJ deli counter, serving supremely tasty sandos and an impressive array of craft sodas. The #10's the move, stacked with Jersey-style meatballs, fresh mozz, and a fiery arrabbiata sauce.
Known since 1952 for its “torpedo” sandwiches and plenty of Italian favorites -- all made in-house -- this South Bay classic serves its Sicilian-style meatball sandwiches two ways: whole or crumbled. While we wouldn’t advise against the whole version, the crumbled is the stuff that dreams are made of.
This neighborhood favorite has long been renowned for its Italian classics, including the spaghetti and meatballs, but what is not talked about enough is when the rich, dense meatballs arrive on a toasted ciabatta roll with melted provolone. That, right there, is worth talking about. Well, and eating, too.
If this recently relaunched joint didn’t deliver strong with its meatballs, it would be in serious trouble (or in need of another name change). Choose from the extensive variety of meat mixes -- beef/garlic/basil, pork/speck/mozz, turkey/cranberry/goat cheese, spinach/tofu/almond, spicy chicken, or a rotating, special ball -- pick the sauce, and while you could also have them solo or on pasta, today you’re slipping them in a sandwich with an artisan roll, wheat bread, or brioche slider.
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Danny Jensen is a regular Thrillist contributor and is proud that he made it this far without saying “Mamma-mia-that’s-a-spicy-meatball!” You can get him two on Instagram and Twitter.
1. DeSano Pizza Bakery4959 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
2. Rocco's Italian Market and Deli1761 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
3. Eastside Market Italian Deli1013 Alpine St, Los Angeles
4. Mario's Italian Deli & Market740 E Broadway, Glendale
5. All About The Bread7111 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
6. The Curious Palate12034 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles
7. Sorrento Italian Market5518 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City
8. Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica
9. Cavaretta's Italian Groceries22045 Sherman Way, Canoga Park
10. Tamarind Ave Deli1471 Tamarind Ave, Hollywood
11. Giuliano's Delicatessen & Bakery1138 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena
12. Little Dom's2128 Hillhurst Dr, Los Angeles
13. House of Meatballs1076 Gayley Ave, Los Angeles
It’s nuts that DeSano isn’t a thousand times more famous: the casual East Hollywood pizza shop imports its ingredients straight from Italy, and you can clearly taste the difference when you bite into any of the its cheesy masterpieces. The industrial space includes an open kitchen with a few pizza ovens, communal wood tables, and flat screen TVs, so it’s great for groups. And don’t think DeSano is just about pizza, the menu includes calzones, meatballs, and cannoli.
You’ve probably walked by this understated joint on Vermont dozens of times on your way to the Dresden or Public House, but little did you know that hidden behind that door ware amazing Italian treats, like the polpettine al pomodoro: flavor-packed meatballs, provolone, sauce, Parm, and fresh basil.
A true and authentic Italian deli, Eastside is a landmark eatery for their outstanding sammies (both hot and cold), pasta dishes, and salads.
Mario's has been around since 1961, providing Glendale with delicious sandwiches, hot plates, and pizza the whole while. Though it can get a little crowded, it's always worth the wait to get your hands on one of their triple-decker Submarine Combos.
Spicy capocollo, mortadella, prosciutto di Parma, ham, Genoa salami, and provolone... that's right, it's a recreation of Santa Monica's fav sandwich: The Godfather. Even though it's a copycat, it saves you the long drive you'd otherwise be making for one of these babies.
A great spot for sandwiches and burgers at Santa Monica Place -- do yourself a favor and grab the meatball sandwich -- handmade balls of beef, pork, and veal, topped with melted mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard aioli on a house-baked hoagie.
This family-owned Italian market has tons of fresh, directly imported goodies. Just make sure you hit up their deli for some of the cheapest Italian subs around, including The Combination (cotto salami, mortadella, capocollo, and provolone) which will only run you a measly $3.25 for a regular and $4.95 for a large.
Slinging sandwiches in Santa Monica since the 1920s, Bay Cities is responsible for masterpieces like The Godmother, a sub made with basically every Italian cured meat, Provolone cheese, and the works (mustard, mayo, Italian dressing, onions, pickles, tomato, and lettuce). More than just a sandwich specialist, the shop also serves prepared pastas like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, and stuffed shells. While the counter crew assembles your order, browse through the grocery section that's stocked with imported Italian specialities.
This old-school SFV spot (since ’59) has all you could crave from a classic Italian deli, including a killer meatball sub, loaded with massively portioned tender meatballs, covered with house marinara, melted provolone, and served on a sturdy Italian roll.
Tamarind's a tiny NY/NJ-style sandwich shop started by the owner of the equally evocative Delancey (just like Little Italy), Bowery (Lower East Side gastropub), and Mission Cantina (Mexico City, byo kidnapping).
Known since 1952 for their “torpedo” sandwiches and plenty of Italian favorites -- all made in-house -- this South Bay classic serves its Sicilian-style meatball sandwiches two ways: whole or crumbled. While we wouldn’t advise against the whole version, the crumbled is the stuff that dreams are made of.
If you want breakfast pizza and Jon & Vinny's is too far west for you, consider Little Dom's, the Los Feliz alternative. The cool and casual Italian bistro serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner that'll knock out your tastebuds. Seriously. Expect the aforementioned breakfast pizza and egg dishes at breakfast, meaty sandwiches at lunch, and a range of pasta and meat entrees at dinner. Oh, and did we mention Little Dom's pizza margherita? Keep it simple with tomato sauce and mozzarella or dress it up with house-made sausage but either way, it's good.
Choose from the extensive variety of meat mixes -- beef/garlic/basil, pork/speck/mozz, turkey/cranberry/goat cheese, spinach/tofu/almond, spicy chicken, or a rotating, special ball -- pick the sauce, and then decide whether to have them solo, on pasta, or slipped into a sandwich with an artisan roll, wheat bread, or brioche slider.