© Chris Quinlan
Meatball Sliders

It was a cold, rainy Tuesday, and my F&W friend and I just wanted a comforting dinner. So we headed to superstar restaurateur Keith McNally’s newest spot on the Lower East Side, Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria, only to find out it doesn't open to the public for dinner until Friday. Of course, being Food & Wine trend spotters means always searching for what's new and innovative, so we couldn’t go just anywhere, even for comfort food. So we walked a few blocks to the Meatball Shop, a new restaurant specializing in, you guessed it, meatballs. Although the concept sounds simplistic, the owners' impressive pedigree includes stints at the French Culinary Institute, Le Bernardin and San Francisco's SPQR. As we pulled out our markers to make our selections on the wipe-away laminated menus—you select a type of meatball, a sauce and a delivery vehicle (bowl, brioche, hero)—I had a glass of rich, fruity 2007 Nicodemi Montepulciano D'Abruzzo from the short, value-oriented wine list. All the meatballs we ordered (and there were a lot of them) turned out to be well seasoned and incredibly juicy, but I particularly liked the spicy pork and chicken versions.

© Chris Quinlan
Ice Cream Sandwiches

Even after our tribute to two of the most important food groups, bread and meat, we still eagerly got out the markers again to order two of the ice-cream-sandwich combinations (the sole dessert option, with all components made in-house). The winning combo: chewy gingersnaps with chunks of real ginger—good with vanilla ice cream but probably even better with caramel ice cream. The Meatball Shop is all about comfort food. Guess that's what fat pants are for.