The Blackstone Meatball
The Blackstone Meatball’s head chef, Matt Baum, used to play music with singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, and through that connection, he and his business partner, Phil Schaffart, traveled extensively, eating their way through various towns. “We would go to certain places and say, ‘We could do this in Omaha and it would be a hit,’” says Matt.
By far, their favorite was the Meatball Shop in New York. But Matt explains instead of lifting the idea entirely, they decided to do things the hard way and rewrite the whole menu, making it more applicable and open to Nebraska tastes. Matt says they are sticking with the spirit of the Meatball Shop but making it their own.
“But we’re not just doing meatballs. We are going to work with local farms to bring in produce that we can highlight. It might be Brussels sprouts from a particular farm or micro basil from a guy’s greenhouse here in Omaha. All the proteins are coming from within a 150-mile radius. All the beef is certified Angus. We are dealing with Midwest farmers and Midwest beef. The pork will be from Omaha’s Truebridge Farms,” he says.
There will be four regular meatballs on the menu: a Spanish-inspired pork, an Italian-inspired beef, and chicken and vegan versions. Matt went through 16 different iterations before he found the vegan meatball recipe he liked. “The vegan is a mushroom and white bean meatball with roasted carrot for a little sweetness and just a touch of chili pepper for a little spice,” explains Matt.
Each meatball is two ounces. Matt says you come in and choose your meatball, then a sauce. Choices include pesto, sugo al pomodoro (a classic Italian tomato sauce), spicy pork ragout, mushroom gravy or a special sauce that pairs with the meatball of the week. You can have your meatballs served over spaghetti, roasted seasonal vegetables, vegan polenta, a weekly risotto or even waffle fries. Or you can have any of these on the side.
“They can be done family style or single serving. We’ll also do hoagies and sliders. And you can add mozzarella or an egg to those,” says Matt.
The Blackstone Meatball is located at 3910 Harney Street in the Blackstone District. It can be found online at TheBlackstoneMeatball.com.
—By Cheril Lee