The Grotta Azzurra is not exactly lost. It still sits on the corner of Mulberry and Broome, where it was founded by the DaVino family in 1908. However, it shuttered for six years recently, and, when it reopened, it was no longer run by the DaVinos and is reportedly not the same. So it's a long shot that you're ever find this recipe. It's from a humble, ring-binder, cookbook self-published by John Davino in 1977. According to the introduction, all the recipes within come not only from the restaurant, but "have been handed down form father to son since the 1800's, and each dish has remained untouched from the original recipe." The book was kindly given to me by the owner of Bopkat, the great antique shop on Union Street near Columbia in Brooklyn. She thought I would appreciate it. She was right.
Being a meatball nut, always looking for new recipes for this elemental food, I turned to the recipe simply titled "Meatballs." Since I like the way it turned out, here's how it goes:
1 lb. beef, chopped
1/2 lb. pork, chopped
3 slices of Italian bread, soaked in water and squeeze dry
2 Tbls. of cheese, grated Parmesan or Romano
1 Tbl. parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine beef, pork, bread, eggs, cheese, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and garlic. Mix well. Shape mixture into 2 1/2 inch balls. Place into baking pan with oil. Bake about 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.
I found the large size of the meatballs made a big difference. They were crispy on the outside, moist on the inside.
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