Meatballs are an Italian tradition - and they're one of the cuisine's most archetypal and recognised dishes. The key to making a meatball dish taste great is to use the freshest ingredients and to cook the sauce for a long time.
This was pointed out most famously in the scene in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, where the main character Henry Hill is taught to make meatballs in tomato sauce in prison. Under the watchful eyes of the mafia big bosses he's incarcerated with, he's guided through the process by gangster Vinnie - who was actually played by Scorsese's own father, Charles Scorsese. The boss, "Paulie" Cicero, even lends a hand slicing up the garlic with a razor blade to make sure it's cut finely enough.
Thankfully, if you're after a great meatball dish, you won't need to go to prison for a cooking lesson, or even just following a recipe at home! There are plenty of fantastic Italian restaurants already serving meatballs in Edinburgh, where the chefs will be quite willing to do the hard work of watching the sauce for you.
Rigatoni's in South Clerk Street prides itself on serving wholesome and traditional Italian dishes. There's a big choice of pasta and pizza dishes, as well as a number of different risottos on the menu. Polpette feature on their pasta menu and are served with a tomato sauce. If you're gluten-free, just make sure you specify the gluten-free option when ordering and you're good to go.
2. Cafe Artista
At Cafe Artista in Marchmont, there's a traditional Italian feel to the place, with wooden chairs and checked tablecloths. But don't let the unassuming surroundings fool you; you'll get great Italian food served here. You can get the usual range of pizza and pasta as well as antipasti and stuzzichini. But don't forget to check out their Meat menu, where you'll find authentic dishes such as Pollo ala Paesana, Pollo ala Cacciatora and, of course, Meatballs with Spaghetti, cooked to authentic perfection by Bruno and his team.
The management at Quattro-Zero in Queensferry Street likes to ensure that every dish cooked in its kitchen is as authentic as possible, so imports all its buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and spices directly from Italy and uses a traditional wood-fired pizza oven.
Amongst their pasta and risotto dishes, you'll find Spaghetti con Polpette (that's Italian for meatballs, in case you're wondering). The meatballs here are made on the premises with a mix of pork and beef and served in a rich tomato sauce.
It's not surprising that a vibrant city like Edinburgh has so many great eateries, and you can find all manner of different cuisines here. But, like most cities in the UK, one of the most popular cuisines in town has always been Italian, and with restaurants serving traditional favourites like meatballs, pizza and pasta, it's no wonder.
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