Photo by Collins Laatsch

Great Balls of Comfort

Whole generations of Columbus natives first dipped their toes in Italian cuisine through experiencing the menus of the Moretti family. Homecoming dinners, first dates, family outings, the Moretti family has been ushering in a love for Italian cookery since the early ‘80s. And though the manicotti is to die for and the vegetable lasagna sets all others to shame, Moretti’s has had its bread service game down since day one. It sounds like a side note, but homemade bread served with a house butter punctuated with chopped fresh garlic.

Above all else, there is nothing more comforting than bread. And when it’s cold and gray, there is little that can beat the warm blanket of familiar foods. ‘Tis the season for comfort foods– a good stick-to-your-ribs dinner eaten in a warm room filled with people enjoy themselves is as much a remedy for the winter blahs. It’s a low-key, no-pressure big-sigh-at-the-end-of-a-long-day, repast.

Palle, the newest concept from the Moretti family, is quickly becoming a comfort food destination. Opening recently in Grandview Heights, the meatball-centric riff on fast-casual operations ups the décor bar for such restaurants substantially, while also keepin’ things just a little silly. It is a restaurant serving primarily balls.

And the balls jokes abound, but they can be forgiven because the food is hearty and warm. Palle–meaning, surprise, balls in Italian– has one of those menus that take a moment to digest. Read through it, weigh all the options, decide what you have a taste for, and then put checkmarks next to the items desired. Thus, you can get your chicken balls, your beef balls, your spicy pork balls, you veggie balls, served atop focaccia or in a bowl. Then pick a sauce– you got your traditional house marinara or the fan fav, Gouda cream, the Marsala gravy or the pesto. How you chose can mean the difference between an Upstate New York meal with the Buffalo sauce or down South nosh via barbeque sauce.

And you can always add a family jewel–a fried egg–to anything if you feel yolk to it.

There are daily specials– The Daily Grind, referring to the hand-ground nature of all the meats– of various meat collages (veal, Asiago, and Kale was a recent option), risotto, pasta, and polentas.

My favorite table in the The View On Fifth new build spot is the table under the word “home.” For whatever reason, that sign plus the optimistic yellow of the banquette inspires me to flip my off shoes (don’t tell!) and curl my feet up under me and dive into the Kitchen Sink Salad– two big balls and sauce, joined by greens, veggies, hummus, crispy chickpeas (little balls), all presented in a stainless steel bowl that looks like a… sink! It’s like a one-man-band of a meal. Appetizer, salad, protein, and side o’ veg– all in one place.  Chunk of focaccia shoehorned into the dish. Can’t go wrong and only one dish for the washer working full steam ahead in the crowded restaurant.

It looks like the Moretti’s have another hit on their hands as these balls are going to be handed down for generations.

Palle by Moretti is located at 1021 W. Fifth Ave. The website has details about the menu and daily specials– click the Daily Grind link–