Balling Outside the Marinara Lines
Call it saucy, call it eclectic, call it a simple concept—but just don’t call it Italian. The Meatball House, located on Norman’s historic Campus Corner, is dedicated to making the gastric orb a culinary delight that transcends one stereotype of flavor.
“The only common denominator is that we serve meatballs,” explained Chef Andrew Black. “Other than that, we are offer a completely different dining experience.”
Black, former chef of upscale restaurants like the Skirvin Hotel, Vast and Flint, and his co-owner, Rudy Khouri, co-founder and owner of La Baguette, wanted to create a menu based simply on a meatball, then build the flavor experience based on their customer’s individual palates. With a suite of flavors that runs the gamut—a spicy Thai peanut sauce to a zesty Argentinian Chimichurri sauce—patrons of the Meatball House can always get their balls like the menu says, “as you like them.”
The ordering, like the concept, is straightforward. You order the number of balls (1-3) with a side salad or bread. Then you determine the type of meatball, beef, lamb, pork, turkey or fishtato—a blend of fish and potato.
For vegetarians, the house offers veggie ball of Portobello mushrooms, dried cranberries, lentils, tofu and herbs. They also often have a daily special of vegetarian quinoa balls that sells out quickly.
One you have the base of your dish, then you get sauced—literally. Patrons can choose from traditional flavors such as basil tomato or meat sauce to sweet BBQ, fresh chimichurri, savory mushroom or creamy, and decadent, gorgonzola sauces.
Surprisingly, with Meatball House being open nearly a year, you would think a few favorites would emerge as the “go-to” dish, but that is the complexity of customized dishes. However, there are some clear winners. Black said some of the more popular sauces are the gorgonzola, mushroom and Yakitori sauce. Popular sides include macaroni and cheese, the daily risotto special and the salad with a homemade honey mustard dressing.
The Meatball House also offers brunch on Friday and Saturday that includes traditional breakfast items, like fresh-made biscuits and doughnuts, to the not-so-traditional, like lemon ricotta crepes and a deep dish cinnamon roll with whiskey sauce and espresso shot. All of the bread and dessert items are courtesy of La Baguette.
“We have something for every palate,” Black said, “which is why we have such a loyal following.” Black said nearly 85 percent of his customers are return guests. “We are locally owned and make our menu items in-house with fresh, quality ingredients, and our patrons can tell the difference.”
It only takes once for someone to get sauced and then they want to come back to try other flavor combinations. If you’re lucky, maybe someone in your party will share a taste of their meal, but if not, the meals are reasonably priced at around $10, and it’s worth coming back for more saucy concoctions.
The Meatball House has a fun and casual atmosphere, perfect for a date night, family dinner or going out with your friends. They kept the bones of the former restaurant—including its fantastic outdoor patio—but added its own touches, like the penny-design counter top at the bar. The restaurant offers entertainment every week, including Karaoke night on Thursdays and live bands on the patio on Fridays.
“We want to be a destination place,” Black said. “People come for the food and drink and stay for the fun.”