Salerno Family Meatballs
The chef who loves it| Fahrenheit's Rocco Whalen
Have a ball| Using his grandmother's recipe, owner Fabio Salerno re-creates the traditional meatballs ($9) by soaking bread in milk and adding garlic to a mixture of tender beef, pork and veal. "There's still the right amount of juiciness," says Whalen. "It's served piping hot with a sweet sauce and the perfect amount of Parmesan cheese on top."
Block party| Whalen tried the Italian appetizer when Lago first opened in Tremont in 2006 and estimates that he's ordered it at least 50 times over the years. Now that the restaurant has relocated to the Flats East Bank, he makes a visit every few months. "This is something I order that I know I'm going to eat all of them," he says.
Famiglia fondness | Growing up with a mother who made her own meatballs and loved trying other versions has converted Whalen into a meatball aficionado. "You can go to any restaurant today and find some variation of the meatball, and it's great," says Whalen. "These ones remind me of my childhood and all things good and wholesome, and that's the draw."
Cold call | His hankering for meatballs intensifies as the temperatures drop. "Meatballs just go well with our wintry weather," Whalen says. "When it's football season and there's snow on the ground, people start thinking about meatballs."
Lago, 1091 W. 10th St., Cleveland, 216-862-8065. lagoeastbank.com