Houston Chefs Will Show Off Their Meatball Game This Weekend

Spaghetti and meatballs go hand in hand, but this weekend the latter half of that culinary relationship will shine with its own meaty glory at the Meatball Brawl at Damian’s Cucina Italiana (3011 Smith Street).

Hosted by Johnny Mandola and Bubba Butera of Damian’s, the event will take place on Sunday, April 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. The competition pits 10 local restaurants against each other in a fight for the finest ‘balls in town. Categories available for bragging rights include Most Traditional, Most Creative, and People’s Choice. Tickets are $55 each (available on Eventbrite) and grant guests food and wine samples accompanied a DJ spinning Italian tunes.

Meatball Brawl
Damian’s Meatball Brawl will take place Sunday, April 23 from 1p.m. to 4p.m. Courtesy of Damian’s

Tickets will be available at the door but Mandola says space is limited, so it’s best to buy online to secure your space. Proceeds benefit The Texas Italian-American Sports Foundation in honor of the late Frankie Mandola.

Competitors include Alex Padilla of Antone’s Famous Po Boys, Joey Galluzi of Brooklyn’s Meatball Company, Martin Weaver of Brennan’s of Houston, Nash D’Amico of D’Amico’s, Dimitri Voutsinas of Emmaline, Mark Holley of Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Richard Kaplan of Weights + Measures, Martin Sayer of Nobie’s, Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza, and Alexandre Scarafile of Sud Italia.

“We searched for a variety of restaurants that either had popular meatballs on their menu or ones we knew would introduce some innovative meatball dishes,” says Mandola on how competitors were selected. “With this lineup of talented chefs, anyone can win and I know each will be gunning for a knockout.” Greg Morago with the Houston Chronicle, Alice Levitt with Houstonia Magazine, Tim Maloney with LOCAL Houston, Taylor Byrne-Dodge with My Table and Phaedra Cook with Houston Food Finder will serve as judges.

Some may remember the last (and first) time a version of this event took place back in 2008 when it took shape as an invitational hosted by My Table. Mandola says it was akin to a “typical Mandola family event” with wine and good food and wants guests to feel that same kinship during the showdown this weekend.

Comments (12)

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  • April 21, 2017 at 9:33 pmStephen lee

    Joey galluzi

  • April 21, 2017 at 8:59 pmJanet Ng

    Alexandre Scarafile

    • April 22, 2017 at 7:40 amPhaedra Cook

      Thanks for your entry, Janet! We’ll be doing our drawing in mere minutes.

  • April 21, 2017 at 6:37 pmJesse guerreeo

    I can’t wait to try chef Holley’s. He’s my pick to win!

    • April 21, 2017 at 6:44 pmPhaedra Cook

      You’re entered in the drawing for two tickets! Good luck!

    • April 22, 2017 at 7:45 amPhaedra Cook

      Jesse, we hope you don’t have plans tomorrow, because we pulled YOUR name out of the random drawing! Thanks for entering. We need you to email us at [email protected] so we can provide your name and email address to the hosts. Congratulations!!

    • April 22, 2017 at 8:14 pmPhaedra Cook

      Jesse, we need your email address ASAP so we can arrange for your passes! Email us at [email protected]

  • April 21, 2017 at 6:27 pmBrian Tagtmeier

    Traditional meatball winner? Nash.
    Creative. Martin Strayer.
    And people are people.

    • April 21, 2017 at 6:45 pmPhaedra Cook

      Interesting POV. You’re entered in the drawing for two tickets! Good luck!

  • April 20, 2017 at 10:23 pmKaren Indellicati Rittinger

    I recommend a novice division next time for this event and let us home cooks show you what our grandmothers who immigrated from Italy taught our moms and us.

    • April 21, 2017 at 3:27 pmEllie Sharp

      That would be so much fun, Karen. I will suggest this to the folks at Damian’s and who knows, maybe we’ll see you in a future competition! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. Have a wonderful day!