Meatball Cucina: a new San Diego eatery

On a visit to San Diego recently, my friend Vivienne and I visited Meatball Cucina, a relatively new restaurant located within an office building in the downtown area. The decor and the feel of the interior was chic and modern, but I was intrigued by the menu and its name because it reminded me of The Meatball Shop in NYC.


The menu isn’t quite The Meatball Shop, but instead, a variety of meatballs are featured along with a bunch of other dishes. The owners are from Italy and I was excited to possibly eat some very authentic Italian fare.

Even before you order, a basket of bread arrives. Foccacia topped with tomato sauce and some herbs for you to munch on while you peruse the menu.

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We started with Stuffed Calamari ($8.95), whole squid stuffed with seasoned ground meat to form meatballs. I liked the light spicy tomato sauce which is reminiscent of food in Italy, but not necessarily, the American style Italian cuisine we find here.

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I’m a big fan of cannellini beans so when I saw Shrimp, Cannellini Beans and Pancetta ($8.95), I knew I wanted to try it. Again, the dish is light, the shrimps very fresh prepared with shallots in olive oil. The only thing was, I didn’t detect any pancetta in the dish.

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Vivienne and I were excited to try the meatballs, so we decided on the Meatball Sampler ($14.95) to fully partake on a variety without filling up too quickly. We chose five meatballs with five different sauces to accompany.

Veal, turkey, fish, vegan and classic. The veal was on the bland side, but I was really surprised by how flavorful the turkey was. Our server was the one who recommended this and I was glad he did. The other favorite was the vegan, a combination of cauliflower and other vegetables coated with breadcrumbs and fried. It definitely was one of the best offerings on the plate.

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The sauces of classic tomato, pink tomato, basil pesto cream, roban and buffalo & gorgonzola were again on the lighter side. We expected the cream and cheese sauces to be thicker but they weren’t. I preferred a lighter sauce, however, it didn’t allow for a good coating around the meatballs. My favorites were the classic tomato and roban.

We decided on a pasta dish as well but requested an appetizer portion and they complied. Penne Portofino ($14.95) with shrimp zucchini tossed in a roban cream sauce was perfectly al dente. Shrimp had a great snap and seasonal zucchini made for a great accompaniment in both color and taste.

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We couldn’t leave without trying a pizza and for under $10, the Margherita Pizza is a good portion for lighter appetites as a meal, or for two to share.

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We finished with Deconstructed Cannoli ($6.95), already cracked so you won’t crack your teeth biting into it. The cannoli shell is imported from Italy and the ‘filling’ is light with only a hint of sweetness. Very enjoyable.

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The restaurant is still new but there is huge potential for major growth. The only thing which might hinder lunch time customers not within walking distance is the parking situation. Although there is a parking structure in the building, it cost me $25 for the duration of my lunch. The restaurant validates in the evenings, but that doesn’t solve the issue of lunch time visitors.

Meatball Cucina
655 W Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: 619-564-7100

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