First Look: Bar Meatball, Virginia-Highland

Bar Meatball, which recently replaced Virginia-Highland’s Pozole, features a customizable menu similar to the offerings at New York City success story the Meatball Shop, with a variety of mix-and-match meatballs and sauces, sliders and sides.

The look: Tucked behind a parking lot on Greenwood Avenue, the cottage-like space is topped by an old-fashioned sign with an oval of lights announcing “Old School Flavors.” Inside, the cozy bar and dining room are surrounded by white subway tiles and illuminated by dangling Edison bulbs.

The scene: One recent rainy Sunday evening, a convivial crowd was settled in for drinks and an early supper. At the bar, co-owner Joe Federici was holding court with some fellow New Yorkers in exile, who were sipping wine and recalling the good times at Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

The food: The menu topper “classic meatballs” ($8) come four to an order with a choice of sauce and a slice of focaccia. The classic beef is a blend of chuck and brisket with ricotta. Sausage and peppers is pork, cherry peppers and fennel. Top them with the likes of spicy meat sauce or mushroom gravy. Sliders ($3) are the same pick a meatball and a sauce combo served on a square bun. And sandwiches ($10) are a bigger version on a hero roll or ciabatta bread with three meatballs and a side salad. Sides ($4) range from pasta and fries to arugula salad and sautéed brocolini.

The drinks: The bar menu includes specialty cocktails, such a house barrel-aged negroni ($9) and the Truffle Hunter ($9) with Templeton Rye, Amaretto, amaro and orange juice. Wines are served by the glass ($6-$9) carafe ($15-$24) or bottle ($18-$45). Sweetwater 420 ($5) and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale ($5) were on the recent draft beer menu.

The extras: Under the menu heading “Old School Extras” find starters and snacks such an antipasto platter ($10), fried calamari ($7) a caprese salad ($7) and pickled veggie jars ($3-$4). For dessert, look for cookie ice cream sandwiches ($4), and zeppole ($5), Italian-style doughnuts served in a paper bag with powdered sugar.

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