A History of Meatballs

An iconic item of Italian-American cooking, meatballs are perhaps what comes to mind when one thinks of Italian-American cuisine – and this is for good reason. Not only are Italian-inspired meatballs incredibly popular here in America and across the world, but we would argue that they are almost sacred, as meatball recipes have been passed down for years, from generation to generation. While meatballs are enjoyed all around the world, day in and day out, many may not know about their story and how they came to exist. In today’s blog, we’ll be doing just this, as we take a look at all the ins and outs of the meatball, which we proudly serve here at Rina’s Pizzeria & Cafe, located in Boston’s historic North End!

History & Origins

It might be hard to imagine a time before the meatball, as it is nearly ubiquitous in Italian-inspired cuisine, which is one of the most beloved cuisines here in America. However, as historians would suggest, all the way back in the 4th or 5th century, this was the case. During this time, there was a cookbook titled “Apicius” that featured a unique recipe of ground meat formed into a ball with various spices and herbs to give them flavor. It is agreed that this may have been the prototype for the modern-day meatball that we know and love. 

How Did Meatballs Become Popular?

Despite popular belief, Italians would be far from the only culture with their own style of meatballs. In fact, by the middle ages in Europe, there were a number of unique interpretations of the meatball, mostly made from lower-quality cuts of meat. The methods of preparation, however, would remain mostly the same since then, as ground meat was combined with breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices, and then cooked. While recipes for meatballs would be changed and altered over the years, they would continue to become one of the most beloved foods.

Stop Into Rina’s Today for our Famous Meatball!

Is all this talk about meatballs causing you to crave one? We figured this to be the case. If you’re in Boston’s North End neighborhood, come visit us at Rina’s Pizzeria & Cafe, where we offer our famous meatball, in addition to our freshly-made pizza and other Italian-inspired favorites. We are located at 371 Hanover Street in Boston. Feel free to call us with any questions at 617.456.5700 for more information, or to learn about our catering services!

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