The New York City Wine & Food Festival kicked off last night with the Giada DeLaurentiis–hosted Meatball Madness, a ballsy competition among some of the city's best chefs. This year, for the first time, toques were invited to offer nontraditional meatballs, which kept things interesting, from Harold Dieterle of Kin Shop's third-place goat meatball with penang curry to Sara Jenkins of Porsena's lamb and bulgar kibbe with pickled turnips. Jenkins told us that if she keeps putting the Middle Eastern restaurant idea out there, "maybe somebody will offer to fund it." New mom Donatella Arpaia surveyed her meaty domain from a chair while her mother served the balls (which won People's Choice last year). Was grandma excited about the baby, we inquired? Well, it's grandchild No. 6, she told us.
Ultimately, the judges chose six winners: the rabbit meatball at Mailaino tied for fifth with Hearth's meatball parm, followed by Salumeria Rosi, Kin Shop's goat curry ball, Pulino's, and those famous sliders from the little owl. The Meatball Shop, meanwhile, won People's Choice with their steak-bacon-and-Cheddar balls on a biscuit bun, with mushroom gravy, a recipe created special for last night. Scope the winners, and other balls, in our slideshow.BEGIN SLIDESHOW