The meatball market is getting rather squeezy. The dude-ish restaurant genre that launched a thousand double entendres - oops, make that 1001 - welcomes another two of the breed just two kilometres apart.
Meatball & Wine Bar just keeps rolling, opening its third restaurant, nicknamed Smithballs, in the space that until recently housed beer bar Josie Bones. It follows Cityballs, which opened on Flinders Lane in August 2012, and Richballs (Swan Street, Richmond), launched in April last year. Smithballs continues the winning formula: a long copper bar, lots of leather and exposed bricks and a menu of various kinds of meat (and veg) balls with mix-and-match sauces and sides. The difference at Smithballs, says owner Matteo Bruno, is a lunch menu with hero sandwiches and salads. He's added a neon sign to the back wall declaring, "I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry.'' It's open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday and daily for dinner.
Details: Meatball & Wine Bar, 98 Smith Street, Collingwood, 9416 4421, meatballandwinebar.com.au
Brunswick Street newbie Meatballs & Sons (co-owner Carlos Swinton-Lee pictured) has rounded up global meatball inspiration with things like Thai chilli chicken balls with onion jam and Italian beef balls oozing bocconcini, plus a range of sides and salads. The family-friendly 70-seater is kitted out like a general store, with shelves stacked with preserved lemons, flour canisters and bread baskets. While they wait for a liquor licence, they're serving house-made lemon or cherry soda. Open daily 11am-midnight.
Details: Meatballs & Sons, 266 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9416 3006, Lamb