There’s an excellent small plates restaurant in Silver Lake called Barbrix. The dining room is candle-lit and the exposed-beam ceiling reminds me of the taverns in New England. The menu spans the Mediterranean: arancini and polenta from Italy, lamb and tabouli from Morocco, olives and sausages from Spain.
Barbrix really speaks to me because of what it shares with the philosophy of PEZZO: seasonal, small-plate, Italian. Originally, PEZZO started as a concept for a restaurant, featuring seasonal ingredients in tapas-style dishes, drawing from Italian and Californian cuisine. Perhaps you’ve seen the definition of “pezzo” in the side bar… the word means “piece” in Italian. I imagine a menu filled with crostini, ravioli, meatballs, arancini… individual bites, but served family style. For now, PEZZO is a place for me to share and remember the recipes I love. That said, we had meatballs in a lemon sauce at Barbrix a while back, and they blew my mind. Since then, I’ve been perfecting my own recipe for PEZZO. The experimenting resulted in these delicate veal and ricotta meatballs, perfumed with a crisp lemon and white wine sauce with earthy sage.
Serve with whole wheat spaghetti and Sauteed Broccoli Rabe for dinner, or with crusty bread as an appetizer. You will not be disappointed…
Veal Ricotta Meatballs with Lemon Sage Sauce
4 servings, about 20 meatballs
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 cup fresh ricotta, drained in a cheesecloth if very wet
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tblsp finely chopped sage
2 tblsp finely chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 pinches red pepper flakes
sea salt and pepper to taste
flour, for dredging
extra-virgin olive oil for frying
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 & 1/2 lemons)
1 tblsp butter
5 sage leaves
salt and peper to taste
1. In a large bowl, using your hands, combine all of the ingredients (besides flour) for the meatballs, massaging until just incorporated. Add more breadcrumbs or ricotta if needed. The meat should be moist, but easy to shape into balls.
2. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Form the meat into small balls (about 3 inches in diameter). Place the balls on the cookie sheet as you go. Wet your hands if the meat is sticking to them. You should have about 20 meatballs. (cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day)
3. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to generously coat the surface of the pan. Place 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow dish. Lightly roll the meatballs in the flour, and then fry until the meatballs are golden brown on all sides; turn them regularly. Do this in two batches, do not crowd them in the frying pan. Keep the meatballs warm in a covered bowl as you make the sauce.
4. Immediately after removing the second batch of meatballs from the pan, add the white wine to deglaze. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Let reduce for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the butter, lemon slices, sage leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Add the meatballs back into the sauce, toss to coat, and let heat through for 3 minutes. Serve family style in a large bowl, and shave some slices of Parmesan over the top.