I kind of feel like Dear Abby! A friend sent me an e-mail this afternoon saying that she heard that I had "done some research" in the area of meatball subs and was wondering if I "might be willing to lend [my] expertise". How very exciting! She concluded by asking, "Do good meatballs thrown on a yummy bun make a meatball sandwich, or is there some secret I need to know?" To which I answer "kind of" and "sort of". She certainly has one of the biggest factors down: the meatballs must be good. Places like Subway and Quizno's need to get that memo and stop trying to cover up the taste of their meatballs! I have actually done a good bit of "research" into this topic and must conclude that if there is a meatball sub to equal the former Farro's Little Italy then I sure have not met it yet!
Here are the tips I ended up sharing with my friend:
1) Don't just have meat in your meat balls. Throw in some Italian seasonings and let those delightful flavors cook into the little round ball of goodness.
2) Sauce. Either use your favorite store bought sauce or make it yourself. In a perfect meatball sub world the flavor from the meatballs and the flavor of the sauce will balance out. Most places like Subway try to throw on a bunch of sauce to cover the taste of their meatballs. So if it's good tasting sauce you really won't need a lot which may help the liking of the whole thing!
3) I'm not a big fan of crunchy bread for meatball subs. The sauce tends to get everywhere. If it's a little bit on the softer side—at least on the inside—then the bread can more easily soak up any sauce that may want to spill out. There's that fine line of too much sauce equalling soggy bread, but if you follow tips 1 and 2 you're less likely to get soggy bread because you won't need to dowse the sub in sauce. That's not to say a good dowsing isn't delicious!
4) Cheese. Provolone or parmesan melted on top as the sub's crowning glory.