Polpetta 'Balls and Cocktails' to Open in Rocky River on September 5

It’s the home stretch for the guys behind Polpetta, the chef-driven meatball concept that was launched within the walls of Porco Lounge by that bar’s owners and the operators behind the former Cork and Cleaver. The restaurant is set to open in Rocky River (19900 Detroit Rd.) on Wednesday September 5.

After a one-year “proof of concept” period at the Ohio City tiki bar, the owners decided it was time to move up and out of the bar and into a proper setting. That setting is a casual 100-seat restaurant and bar in the space most recently home to River Dog Café.

The concept was inspired by a trip to New York City, says owner Brian Okin, when he and some colleagues visited the Meatball Shop on the Lower East Side.

“I was blown away by how obvious and simple and great the concept was and the fact that there was nothing even remotely like this in Cleveland,” he explains. “I thought to do something like that in Cleveland – not their exact concept, but to be inspired by it and do something based off of it – would be an awesome idea.”

When they visit, diners will encounter a menu that offers a build-your-own meal system, where they select a meatball type, sauce and side, alongside a list of “Our Go-Tos,” suggested compositions designed by the chef. On offer will be a roster of 10 or so meatballs and approximately 20 sauces and 20 sides. Three of the balls will be vegetarian and/or vegan and most are gluten-free as oats are used as the binding ingredient.

Combos will range from traditional beef meatballs with pomodoro sauce on a nest of spaghetti to lamb gyro balls topped with tzatziki sauce and paired with pita panzanella salad. The Chicken and Waffles marries chicken meatballs with maple hot sauce and herbed waffles, while the Bleu Balls showers beef meatballs with blue cheese cream sauce.

Other sauces run the gamut from cheddar cream or paprikash to Jamaican jerk and house BBQ. Prefer your balls to arrive unencumbered? Order them "commando."

Sides like gnocchi, polenta, mashed potatoes, fried rice, and mac and cheese can be ordered on the side or "under my balls."

In addition to the standard entrée, meatballs can be ordered as sliders, in large hoagie buns, or family-style with a dozen balls (three different types) and multiple sauces presented on a large platter.

Appetizers like marinated olives with focaccia bread, beer-battered fresh mozzarella, and ricotta-stuffed pepperoni bread will join salads like tomato and mozz and Caesar.

Because the Porco Lounge team is involved, guests can also expect “world-class cocktails,” Okin adds. While it won’t be “Porco 2.0,” you might encounter a tiki drink or two at some point. There will also be beer and wine.

The restaurant will be open for dinner only Monday through Saturday nights, with food service running until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends.

“There are almost no options to eat late in that area,” Okin notes. “We want to be that option and for service industry people.”
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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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