A colourful new eatery dedicated to meatballs has opened at the Tramsheds in Forest Lodge. It’s the creation of Eugenio Maiale, the chef and founder of A Tavola and Flour Eggs Water. Inspired by a family recipe, Maiale hopes the new venture will become the centre of a global meatball revolution.
“The idea was fleshed out during lockdown, over a meal together with friends, chatting about how it seemed quite crazy that a concept like this hadn’t taken off yet,” Maiale tells Broadsheet. “We all love the humble yet underrated meatball. We saw a gap in the market and wanted to create an approachable brand based on it.”
At the heart of the menu is Maiale’s mum’s recipe, which he describes as “basic, but full of sustenance and love”. Try it when you order the classic meatball (beef, pork and chicken), which comes on its own topped with “Mama’s” sugo (tomato sauce), snuggled in house-made spaghetti with a side of cheesy garlic bread, bundled in a classic sub or in brodo (a clear broth, which Maiale describes as “like a warm hug”).
Another of the chef’s favourites is the chicken parmie ball, which is exactly what it sounds like: chicken parmigiana reimagined as a meatball and lathered in melted cheese. Meanwhile, pescetarians can opt for the fish, leek and potato ball, and vegetarians can order the porcini, taleggio, rice and truffle ball with a side of almond skordalia (garlic mashed-potato dip). There are even dessert balls, in the form of bombolini filled with Nutella, vanilla custard, lemon curd or dulce de leche.
The drinks menu is Italian leaning. Start with an Aperol spritz in a giant glass or a Negroni, then follow up with a glass of montepulciano d’Abruzzo or pinot grigio – or, if you’re in for the long haul, go for a bottle from the tightly curated list, which covers both Italian drops and Australian-made Italian varietals.
Whatever your picks, Maiale wants you to enjoy yourself in your own way. “Everyone has their own version of Palle,” he says. “It’s versatile, fun, wholesome and relevant across all ages and cultures. Our vision was to pioneer and create a meatball movement – something that can stand the test of time and trends.”
(Palle joins a few meatball-focused diners around Australia and internationally, including Meetball & Co in Surry Hills and Melbourne’s Meatball & Wine Bar.)
Palle’s interior, decked in reds, greens and yellows, is designed for good times. Maiale, who enlisted Monika Branagan and Ali McShane of The Bold Collective to bring his vision to life, describes it as “Amalfi Coast meets Palm Springs with some industrial lux”. Join a group of friends – or make new ones – at the long, central communal table, pull up a stool at the bar and chat with the staff, or claim a table for two and watch the action.