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Two plump meatballs in red sauce sit on a bed of white rice, with a thin, crispy triangle of flatbread on the side.
Koufta challow, Afghani meatballs and rice, at the Helmand in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

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Where to Eat Meatballs of the World Around Boston

From tsukune to albondigas to kofta, here’s where to find meatballs of various types in and around the city

The meatball is a whimsical, decadent, and delicious vehicle for comfort and flavor. It’s no surprise that versions of it can be found in most cuisines in a wide variety of meat compositions. From braising to baking to frying, many techniques are used, resulting in textures from soft to springy. While it would be nearly impossible to document every version, here are just a few types with particularly good versions available in and around Boston:

  • Kofta refers to an international family of meatball and meatloaf dishes, including Turkish kofte, Bulgarian kyufte, Greek keftedes, and many more. Preparations in this expansive group of meatball dishes include steamed meatballs, a meatball that fully encases a hard-boiled egg, and meatballs simmered in curry.
  • Albondigas (meatballs in Spanish) can be found on Spanish tapas menus smothered in tomato sauce, as well as in a Mexican soup with vegetables. In the Spanish style, torn bread tends to be used in the meatball mixture, while the Mexican style usually includes uncooked rice.
  • Tsukune is a Japanese meatball that is typically made of ground chicken. They’re often cooked skewered on a charcoal grill, but they can also be pan-fried or baked. Egg, panko, or potato starch are commonly used as the binding ingredients. Keep an eye out for this dish at Japanese izakaya restaurants.

The wide world of meatballs also includes Haitian boulette, Swedish meatballs, Filipino bola-bola, and many more. Read on for some of the best meatballs to try in and around Boston.


Semolina Kitchen & Bar

572 Boston Ave., Medford

Located by Tufts, this sit-down restaurant from the Dave’s Fresh Pasta team pulls out all the stops for its meatballs. The mix of pork, beef, and pancetta makes for a perfectly savory meatball, and the herb ricotta and grilled focaccia complete the dish. Have the meatballs on their own as an appetizer, on a sub, on a pizza, or atop a bowl of pasta (from Dave’s, naturally).

Helmand

143 First St., Cambridge

Two plump meatballs in red sauce sit on a bed of white rice, with a thin, crispy triangle of flatbread on the side.
Koufta challow, Afghani meatballs and rice, at the Helmand in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

This Afghani restaurant in East Cambridge is perhaps best known for its pumpkin dishes, but the Helmand also serves the comforting Afghani meatball and rice dish koufta challow, which is a must-try. The rice is buttery, the meatballs — served in tomato sauce — are tender, and the bread is made fresh in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. All in all, it’s an incredibly comforting meal.

Pho Hoa

1370 Dorchester Ave., Boston

One can find Vietnamese meatballs in the popular noodle soup pho bo vien. The meatballs, made of beef, have a springy texture and are flavored with fish sauce, among other ingredients. At Dorchester mainstay Pho Hoa, the pho bo vien is #33 on the menu, or one can request any other pho dish with an added order of beef meatballs.

Kava Neo-Taverna

315 Shawmut Ave., Boston

Four puck-shaped lamb meatballs with dark grill marks sit atop a pool of thick yogurt on a red plate.
Keftedes, lamb meatballs, at Kava Neo-Taverna in Boston’s South End.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Keftedes, Greek lamb meatballs, are on the menu at this South End Greek restaurant, which focuses on small plates. Try accompanying the keftedes with phyllo-wrapped feta; salad with grilled haloumi; and a glass of Greek wine. (But be sure to save room for dessert; the restaurant’s Greek yogurt — yiaourti — is essential.)

Amelia’s Trattoria

111 Harvard St., Cambridge

Closeup on a dish of spaghetti in red sauce with large meatballs and thickly grated cheese.
Spaghetti alla chitarra with meatballs at Amelia’s Trattoria in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

There are many places to find an excellent, classic Italian meatball in Boston, and Amelia’s Trattoria in Cambridge is no exception. The meatballs are oven-roasted and are soft and flavorful with each bite. For a classic pairing, add them to the house-made spaghetti alla chitarra.

Cornish Pasty Co.

51 Massachusetts Ave., Boston

Lentil-based meatballs in a marinara sauce are stuffed inside a triangular dough wrapper.
Cornish Pasty Co.’s veggie meatball pasty.
Cornish Pasty Co.

While meatballs are fun on their own, Cornish Pasty Co. — which specializes in Cornish-style meat pies (pasties) — takes favorite ingredients and wraps them in flaky pastry. There’s a beef meatball option as well as a veggie ball: house-made lentil balls with basil, marinara, and fresh mozzarella. The restaurant can make it vegan by substituting a dairy-free mozzarella.

Tres Gatos

470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain

Three meatballs in tomato sauce are nestled on a bed of cheesy polenta in a small round brown bowl.
Albondigas at Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain.
Tres Gatos

The albondigas at Tres Gatos are elevated to a new level of decadence with a spicy saffron tomato sauce, and they’re nestled in manchego polenta. Let the decadence continue with an order of chocolate creme Catalan for dessert — and then buy some books and records at the restaurant’s store.

Ittoku

1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

The yolk of a soft-boiled egg sits atop a big grilled chicken meat ball, topped with lots of green onion.
Ontama tsukune from Ittoku in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

Ittoku, a popular izakaya once located in Allston but now in Cambridge, serves ontama tsukune, a fantastically large chicken meatball topped with a soft-boiled egg. The meatball is grilled to perfection, the egg adds a comforting creaminess, and the dish is rounded out with a soy-based sauce and a generous amount of green onions.

Helmand Restaurant

143 1st St, Cambridge, MA 02142 (617) 492-4646 Visit Website

KAVA neo-taverna

315 Shawmut Avenue, , MA 02118 (617) 356-1100 Visit Website

Cornish Pasty Co.

51A Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115 (857) 250-4497 Visit Website

Semolina Kitchen & Bar

572 Boston Ave., Medford, MA 02155 (781) 219-3871 Visit Website

Tres Gatos

470 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 477-4851 Visit Website

Pho Hoa Restaurant

1370 Dorchester Avenue, , MA 02122 (617) 287-9746 Visit Website

Amelia's Trattoria

111 Harvard St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 868-7600 Visit Website

Ittoku

1815 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (617) 608-3630 Visit Website
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