The options at Palle by Moretti, Grandview’s casual meatball spot, seem endless. But stick with the basics of American Italian fare—beef, marinara, a big slab of tiramisu—and see if you don’t come back within the week.
Story by Jenny Rogers
The first couple minutes at Palle by Moretti might be the low point.
The dining room is a bit too cramped—especially considering the steady crowd the Grandview restaurant has welcomed since opening last fall—and getting to a table comes with one “Excuse me” too many. And then there’s the tough-to-navigate menu, loaded with silly double entendres like “commando” (a naked meatball) and “Family Jewel” (a fried egg) that risk making the food a side show. There’s also the line of “Got Balls” merch available online.
But these minor annoyances don’t overshadow the good—and there’s plenty of good at chef Tim Moretti’s casual meatball spot. If you keep it simple—meatballs plus sauce—you’re in for a real treat.
Moretti has served meatballs for years at his namesake restaurant in Dublin but at Palle—Italian for “ball”—his adoration for this classic really shines.
Your best bets are the classic beef or spicy pork balls, which feature that melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness only a great meatball can deliver. The chicken ball, while flavorful, was a bit dry, and the veggie ball has a Southwestern flavor that doesn’t pair well with many of the sauces. The daily special, aka “daily grind,” is worth asking about, though. On a recent visit, it was a turkey-cheddar-kettle chip concoction.
As for how to enjoy your balls, “commando” (two balls for $6 or four for $9, plus a sauce of your choosing) is fine, but a bowl—with a starchy base, meatball and sauce—is a better option. Base options include a daily pasta and risotto, mac and cheese, house tater tots, farro, old-school spaghetti-and-marinara, and three-cheese polenta. When I tried the mushroom risotto, it was cooked perfectly and was pretty darn flavorful, but there doesn’t appear to be a bad choice on the list of bowl bases.
Sauces—an option for each item on the menu—include gouda cream (indulgent but dreamy), house marinara, marsala gravy, barbecue and pesto (it works on nearly everything).
The Kitchen Sink salad ($11) completely dismisses the idea that salad is the boring option. It’s essentially a pasta salad topped with lightly sauced meatballs, crispy chickpeas and a colorful array of crunchy veggies. Order this if a bowl looks like too much.
One thing the entire table could agree upon? The focaccia that comes with nearly everything is incredible. It’s fluffy and flavorful and the kind of bread that can (should?) ruin a low-carb diet.
Other sides and starters are passable, with the exception of the charred, tangy Brussels sprouts ($5). But devotees of Moretti’s know not to pass on the Wedding Soup ($5), made with a savory, not-too-salty broth, not-too-tiny veal meatballs and a healthy serving of greens.
Skip the Big Baller—three balls on a basic bun—unless you want to deal with a mess. In any case, a bowl is better. Sliders (one ball on a bun for $4) and tacos (one ball in a flour tortilla for $4) seem like throwaway menu items. They’re tasty enough, but the bowls are better and give you more bang for your buck.
Cocktail lovers should be pleased by the spirits menu—try the Scotchwork Orange (Dewar’s White Label, Allspice Dram, Dolin sweet vermouth, OJ and lemon juice; $10), or the build-your-own Old-Fashioned ($9). Bonus: During happy hour (weekdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m.), cocktails, wine and drafts are half-price.
It won’t be easy, but try to save room for dessert. Ice cream sandwiches ($6)—made with rotating cookie and ice cream flavors—are fun, as is the ice cream float ($5). (Tip: Make it a nightcap and add a shot of whiskey.)
But much like the entrees, going traditional pays off. Order a scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream and make it an Affogato by adding a shot of espresso ($4). On your way out, stop by the bakery case for a piece of tiramisu.
There’s something appealing about a restaurant where the options seem endless, but trust that you don’t need to try them all. The basics—balls, sauce, pasta, fresh veggies—are what make Palle the kind of spot that becomes a weekly go-to.
Top photo: Pork meatballs and risotto bowl at Palle by Moretti / Photo by Jenny Rogers
Palle by Moretti
The View on Fifth
1021 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview, 614-421-2255
Mon-Thu, 4-9:30 p.m.; Fri, 4 p.m.-midnight; Sat, 3 p.m.-midnight; Sun 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.