My pal Glen Macnow, the WIP sports talk radio host and occasional gonzo food hunter, is in the final throes of a six-week, 44-stop quest to find the best meatballs in the Philly region.
It’s an admirable task, if somewhat masochistic, in a city with an endlessly deep repertoire of spherical meat wonders — and not just the obvious Italian variety.
And so, being suggestible, my own meatball radar has lately has been blinking with all manner of novel finds — especially in the “other” category.
My current non-Italian obsession are the Flemish beauties called “fricadelles” at Teresa’s Next Door. They’ve been on the menu since this outstanding beer bistro with the unusual Belgian-Mex hybrid menu opened in Wayne a decade ago.
But chef and co-owner Andy Dickerson has since made some crucial tweaks to his recipe after consulting the chef at Cafe de Mande during a visit to the Belgian town of Leper.
First off, these nutmeg-scented little guys made from veal and pork are bite-size and delicate — a perfectly snackable starter. The addition of cream-soaked bread to the mix allows them to be soft and rich without being mushy or greasy.
And then there is the careful shaping, done quenelle-style with a pair of spoons — never packed, rolled, or scooped! — which keeps them light even as they take on a hearty crustiness during a 500-degree roast.
But, of course, it’s the beer that makes everything better in Belgium. And so it is with the fricadelles, which get reduced in a buttery glaze of dark Abbey Dubbel ale, topped with chervil and served with a hunk of crusty bread.
It’s unclear whether Macnow will manage to land at Teresa’s before his epic meatball journey ends with a final event flourish on May 7 at Delaware Park Track. But on my top meatball map, these fricadelles belong for sure.
Fricadelles, $9.50, Teresa’s Next Door 124 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, 610-293-9909; teresas-cafe.com