That's a spicy meatball… and a couple regular ones

Smart phone stumbling onto a family joint in Carmel Ranch

Garlic bread makes this a deconstructed meatball sub. CMC Speacial. Cafasso Meatball Company.
  • Garlic bread makes this a deconstructed meatball sub. CMC Speacial. Cafasso Meatball Company.

Cafasso Meatball Company

12075 Carmel Mountain Road #205, Carmel Mountain

What a family-run restaurant looks like in the sprawl.

What a family-run restaurant looks like in the sprawl.

I was doing some work in Carmel Mountain and had a little time after to grab lunch. Consulting my phone, I scrolled through a list of familiar names in the area: Panera Bread, California Pizza Kitchen, El Pollo Loco. I was on the verge on just grabbing a Double Double when I spotted it: Cafasso Meatball Company. Family owned. Done.

I don't know how a little, independently operated Italian restaurant wound up skirting the edge of a Home Depot parking lot in franchise central, but it makes a variety of meatballs from scratch, so my work was cut out for me.

I might have grabbed a meatball sub, or pizza, or one of many pastas on the menu. But I kinda wanted to try out a variety of meatballs, so I went for the CMC Special: choice of 3 meatballs, sauce & 2 slices of garlic bread for $7.75.

I began with the classic beef. Then figured I'd give turkey a shot. Choosing the third was not easy. I had to weigh my love of beef mixed with bacon against a love of beef mixed with pork sausage. In the end, pork sausage won out, and I made it spicy. Let's face it, the zucchini meatball was never in the running.

I could have opted for meat sauce as well — this place is all about options — but running with the theory that three meatballs would provide enough protein, I kept it simple, with marinara. Since I was already embracing the purity of these things, I also skipped the mozzarella, which some friends would give me hell for.

The first thing to strike me about these meatballs was the texture. This is some finely ground meat, lacking any of the chunky flaws of one or two subpar meatballs I've eaten closer to downtown. The second thing I noticed was the spice of my third pick. While the beef and turkey leaned a little bit on the sauce to round out the flavor, the cherry pepper-laden spicy meatballs did not tiptoe around their spicy designation.

Overall, these things were all pretty right on, and I aim to return someday for a beef & bacon meatball sub. Or maybe even some of the restaurant's several non-meatball, made-from-scratch offerings. It's good to know this area has a legitimate alternative to Rubio's and In 'n 'Out.

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