Satisfying sandwiches, little innovation.
MMCo. seems like the perfect niche idea. In the days leading to my visit, I studied the online menu’s seemingly endless permutations of meat– (or veggie–) ball, sauce, cheese and optional toppings so as to not be overwhelmed in person.
Owned by the same proprietor whose eight eponymous restaurants contributed to Philadelphia’s Restaurant Renaissance in the 1980s, Marabella offers meatballs made on the premises according to family recipe. Needless to say, I had high expectations.
The tomato–red, semi–industrial interior of the 21st century rendition is chic and cozy, with wooded table seating for about 20 people. The chalkboard menu on the wall breaks down the build–your–own option and has a selection of predetermined favorites.
I ordered the traditional sandwich with beef meatballs, marinara sauce and fontina cheese ($8.50). It was predictably and perfectly hearty, tasting of classic Italian comfort food. It was the sort of sandwich that doesn’t make you think too hard.
I also tried the Sample ($9.50), which offers one of each meat or vegetable ball in the sauce of your choice. My fellow diner and I made the mistake of branching out a little too far from the Marabellas’ claim to fame by ordering it with alfredo sauce, which turned out to be disappointingly under–seasoned.
Without the adornment of cheese, toppings or more flavorful sauce, the meatballs also proved too universally light on the seasoning. While this made the Sampler fall flat, I have confidence that the detectable chicken–, pork– and veggie–ness of the balls would have been a success in the context of a sandwich.
Ultimately, although not the height of epicurean innovation, if you’re craving a classic meatball sandwich, definitely keep Marabella Meatball Co. in mind.
Marabella Meatball Co.
1211 Walnut St.
Don’t Miss: Traditional sandwich with beef meatballs
Skip: The alfredo sauce