Man Food: The Meatball Sub at Anchovies

Welcome to Man Food, where burger pro Richard Chudy steps away from his usual burger beat to explore food challenges, street eats, and other gut-busting delights. Ladies are welcome, of course.

meatball sub anchovies

Photo by Katie Barszcz

After paying a visit to Anchovies in the South End, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite after-hours haunt for many local chefs. It manages to be both completely unpretentious and uniformly satisfying—the epitome, I would say, of Man Food itself. At a first glance, the space feels like an incredibly dingy bar. Those who don’t judge books by their covers, however, will be rewarded with some quality comfort food.

I went for the meatball sub ($8). A sub shop staple, meatball ‘wiches are often generic and lackluster, featuring bland, heavy softballs of meat stuffed inside a stale roll that instantly becomes soggy with sub-par marinara. Thankfully, though, that is not the case at Anchovies. Their version contains a generous portion of plump, light, and supremely flavorful meatballs—a blend of beef, pork and veal—that your Italian grandmother wishes she could make. The veal and beef lend a lighter heartiness to the blend, while the dose of pork provides the necessary salt and fat.

The marinara is nothing to dismiss, either, with an ideal balance of sweet, robust tomatoes and fresh herbs. The precise application of sauce is impressive as well—there’s just enough to let you know it’s there, but it’s not overdone as to make the bread saturated and distracting. Crisp and generously salted French fries round out the meal. If anything, the meatball sub is in accordance with everything else at Anchovies; it’s familiar, nourishing, and inconspicuous, just the way it should be.

(Anchovies, 433 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-266-5088;