Young and Hungry

Who’s Got The Biggest Balls In Penn Quarter? (Hint: Not Michel Richard)

Quite a big deal has been made of Michel Richard's balls—that is, the "rounded meats" on sale at the famed Citronelle chef's new Meatballs shop in Penn Quarter. Talk about braggadocio: the word "balls" is heavily emphasized in big letters on the restaurant's signage. But, for all the big hype and even bigger type, Richard's balls aren't exactly the biggest balls in town. Heck, they're not even the biggest balls in Penn Quarter, a Young & Hungry investigation shows.

We put some of Richard's balls on the scale to see how his hugely ballyhooed, saucy orbs compared to those at neighboring meatball mecca Carmine's, both in terms of overall size and price per ounce. Here's how both sets of balls stacked up:

An order of the "classic" variety at Meatballs nets a total of four balls, costing $9.89 (that's $8.99 plus tax). We weighed each ball individually. Ball No. 1 weighed a measly 1.4 ounces. The other three were a slight bit bigger: No. 2 weighed in at 1.7 ounces, No. 3 rang up at 1.6, and No. 4 also hit the 1.7 mark. This works out to an average ball size of about 1.6 ounces.

Each meatball costs about $2.47, meaning you're essentially paying $1.54 for each ounce of rounded meat at Richard's place.

At Carmine's, a side order of meatballs gets you six balls per serving, at a total price tag of $18.15 (after tax). On visual inspection, these balls appeared a great deal bigger than the kind at Richard's place and the scale confirmed this: Ball No. 1 weighed in at a whopping 3.4 ounces. Ball No. 2 came in even bigger: 3.9 ounces. Balls Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 were somewhere in the middle:  3.6, 3.5, 3.5 and 3.7 ounces, respectively. This works out to an average ball size that is considerably larger than Richard's: 3.6 ounces. Quite a mouthful!

Each of these hefty balls costs about $3.03, meaning you're paying just 84 cents or so per ounce.

In short: you get a lot more balls for your buck at Carmine's, you know, if you're into that sort of thing.

Photos by Stephanie Meyer

  • chaz

    O come on, of course massive chain Carmines has a bigger and cheaper meat balls than the one outpost by a real living non-corporate chef focused on quality.

  • tom

    surprisingly richard's aren't even cooked at his store, so much for your quality theory.. go taste the difference.

  • susie

    Tom Sietsema compared the offerings at The Meatballs Shop to airplane food and he gave Carmine's 2 stars in his review.

  • monkeyrotica

    He was slightly less savage in his review of Richard's place. Bottom line: they're factory-made off-site and they don't taste any better than Carmines.

  • Mike on H Street

    And I'm not sure I would call five locations a "massive chain." Isn't Meatballs Richard's fourth current restaurant?

  • chaz

    Fair points, all.

    I was wrong about quality and was unfairly dismissive of Carmines, which is a much smaller organization than I had thought. Very wrong!

    I have liked my meals at Meatballs, though.

    I do think its no surprise that carmines balls are bigger and cheaper, since portion size is constantly referenced when that restaurant is discussed.

    But other than that I was wrong and unfair.

  • Tweaked

    It's clear that AC/DC has the biggest balls of them all.

  • Scott Reitz

    Just tell me they come in a sack. They do right?

  • Archer Jordan

    You gets no bread with One Meatball!

  • Kirsten

    Here's what I don't understand about "Meatballs":

    1. Why do none of the reviews mention there's already a NYC chain "The Meatball"?

    2. How does it expect to succeed without a webpage? I mean, this isn't a mom-n-pop venture. I would think a webpage would be first on the marketing list.