Mia Dona | 206 E. 58th (bet. 2nd & 3rd Ave.) | 212.750.8170 | www.miadona.com
TRENDS HAVE BEGUN to overlap more, with greater frequency, and, most of them, to great effect. People who don't have the time or means to travel all over the city for some fine food now may enjoy the regular if not frequent convenience of having fine food driven to their neighborhood and dispensed from trucks. As well, in no small part due to the recession, customers and their wallets have become nostalgic for the comfort foods of their youth.
Food trucks have become so ubiquitous, that as a consequence, foodies have come up with the terminology of "brick & mortar storefront", which is just a 9-mont old way of saying restaurant. And, yes, in this city especially, restaurants must compete with each—even to support each other—and vice versa.
So one might become skeptical when NYC staple restauranteur Donatella Arpeia uses the front of one of her "brick & mortar" places, Midtown East's Mia Dona to—Mondays through Friday from noon until 2 p.m.—park a tiny, circus-red cart on front of her space to sell homemade meatball heros (NYC food blog Midtown Lunch ventured to ask if this signaled a "shark-jumping" moment in the city's food universe).
The meatballs—and even the focaccia bread—are all prepped and made in house, and you can watch the video of executive chef, Nick—along with GM, Jesse—proudly tell me about what the ingredients of both the meatballs and the bread, as well as explain the rest of Mia Dona's menu.
I got to enjoy the nice aromas from a few feet away as the bread got toasted, meatballs get spooned on top, cheese on top of that, then the sandwich gets closed and panini pressed and comes out hot, crusty, and gooey.
It's an excellent sandwich. The sauce is rich and deep with flavor without feeling heavy or overcoating the inside of your mouth. The cheese was gooey and non-obstructive,as it sometimes can be an other meatball heros, relying more on its casual yet almost rustic flavor than on the oversold visual of cartoonish "stringiness". The ground veal meatballs are nicely firm but not dense, and juicy enough to fall apart easily as each bite finishes as one singularly familiar and satisfying food idea.
Inevitable comparisons will be made to the Lower East Side's Meatball Shop; to me, the debate is moot. They are both excellent (I am supportive, not competitive. If anyone has the advantage, it would be Mia Donna, just on it being more geographically convenient.
That and the fact that that, if the comfort food trend ever abates, I at least know a restaurant only in Midtown East whose other non-trendy menu items I'd be curious to try.
Which very well, and quite validly, could be the whole point.
Bun Apple Tea!
Mia Dona | 206 E. 58th (bet. 2nd & 3rd Ave.) | 212.750.8170 | www.miadona.com/