Rainy days in New York always make me crave comfort food—and there’s something definitely comforting about cozying up in a Manhattan diner over hearty Italian food and hot coffee.
On a recent rainy Saturday, I met Katy, our new Business Bitch, for brunch and a bit of Bitch onboarding. I was the first to arrive at Polpette, which was quite empty but still very inviting.
The small restaurant is like something out of a New York movie. A long wooden bar, floor-to-ceiling wine racks, a small vintage crystal chandelier over the entrance, mis-matched wooden tables adorned with red, checkered napkins.
It’s like Grandma took over a sweet little diner and gave it some character. Oh, and some mama-style cooking.
The restaurant quickly filled up once Katy arrived. It was a nice mix of Upper West Side families and young groups of friends catching up over mimosas. I ordered a coffee, which tasted much like diner coffee; and a regular Bloody Mary, which was small and average.
Katy ordered a Bellini, which was fresh and ice cold. Plenty of bubbles in that cocktail. But we were eyeing the Pamosa cocktails that the table next to us were guzzling down. Pama, orange juice and champagne were mixed in large goblets. We eyed them with envy.
But the pièce de résistance on the cocktail menu at Polpette is the meatball Bloody Mary. Let me repeat that: A meatball Bloody Mary, people. It is a large Bloody Mary with two breadsticks, a fresh mozzarella ball with basil, and an enormous meatball poking out.
I have never had a meatball Bloody Mary before, and the mix itself had a carnivorous taste to it, made with tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, hand-pressed lemon juice, tobacco sauce, crushed red pepper and, of course, vodka.
The meatball was artfully perched on a straw, so it didn’t fall into the drink and fall apart. It was a truly unique brunch cocktail, and I spent an inordinate amount of time just simply admiring the construction.
Everything on the brunch menu looked equally creative and tempting, and we admitted to the manager that we couldn’t decide. “Why don’t we bring you out a sampling of dishes?” he suggested. The pampering stemmed from an invite to try this brunch.
But even if we weren’t guests of the restaurant that day, the brunch menu overall is quite a steal. For $15, you can get any entrée and bottomless coffee or tea. For $30, you can get any entrée and bottomless cocktails. And the dishes are large enough, that this will definitely satisfy you.
One dish that we definitely knew we had to try was the meatballs, of course. And oh, did they live up to their hype. Nicky’s Meatballs have been named the best in the city by numerous sources, and the original small shop just around the corner is constantly swamped.
Nicky brought the famous recipe to Polpette to serve up those spheres of goodness in a more relaxed restaurant setting. And we’re grateful he brought the goodness to the brunch menu.
How are the meatballs made? The ground beef and pork is mixed with black pepper, garlic, Parmesan cheese, eggs and brick-oven Italian breadcrumbs. And the marinara sauce that they swim in is to die for. Priced at $10, this dish is not to be missed.
Continuing on this theme, the meatball Benedict brought that tremendous hearty meatball taste to a classic brunch dish. The English muffin was very lightly toasted, in fact it was just warmed in the oven, so it wasn’t overly crispy.
The poached egg was slightly overcooked, but the Hollandaise made up for that. It was done Italian style with freshly squeezed garlic. The entire dish was unique and delicious.
The Shakshuka eggs was the final dish we shared, and we found it a bit boring after the Benedict and meatballs. Two big sunny side up eggs were swimming in a spicy tomato sauce with green peppers and onions. It is served with bread so you can mop it up.
We were so full. It was the perfect comfort food for a rainy day. But it was raining so hard outside, we decided to extend our brunch a bit and share a dessert.
The French toast arrived to our gasps. It is enormous, piled high with mascarpone in layers between the toast. Strawberries and powdered sugar are sprinkled on top.
But it wasn’t the extras, the cheese, the fruit, that made this dish so good. The toast itself was so light and airy—such a departure from the typical syrup-laden French toast dish I’m used to.
That dessert just put the icing on the cake for Polpette. While Katy and I watched the rain outside and planned our Uber escapes, we marveled at what a creative, delicious brunch Polpette served up.
The Bitches say: A. Polpette served up a unique meatball-infused brunch menu that is creative and comforting.
Polpette by Nicky Meatballs
483 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10024
Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.