Fenway Park’s Meatball Cone Is a Disaster

What hath Strega wrought?

Photo by Kyle Clauss

Photo by Kyle Clauss

Upon witnessing the destructive power of the atomic bomb for the first time, American theoretical physicist Robert Oppenheimer quoted a line from the Hindu scripture: “Now I am become death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” A similar thought passed through my Bud Light-pickled brain as I weaved through the Fenway Park concourse to my seat, warm “meatball cone” in hand.

As part of its revamped gameday concessions, Fenway Park now offers this $12.50 nightmare dreamt up by the Strega restaurant group, “stuffed with one of Strega’s famous meatballs and fresh ricotta, topped with homemade pomodoro and a sprinkle of cheese.” Somewhere in the seventh inning, as the Red Sox clobbered the Orioles Tuesday night, I sought to try one.

“If you gaze long into an abyss,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “the abyss also gazes into you.” As I placed my order, I stared at the display meatball cone atop the sneeze-guard, coagulated and shriveled in the heat. I felt it stare back.

One of the men working the concessions stand plucked a pizza crust cone from the steam table, then retrieved a comically large tub of ricotta cheese. Using the tip of his tongs, he smeared a teaspoon-sized dollop around the inside of the cone before plopping one, baseball-sized meatball inside. For good measure, he ladled on some pity sauce atop the meaty hillock, also using the tongs.

As I returned to my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that nobody else was eating one—sausages, franks, peanuts, chicken fingers, and soft-serve helmets, but nary a meat cone to be found on the concourse. My first bite, I was treated to the unique pleasure of ground beef lodged up my nostrils, as not even Patton could devise a prudent way of attacking this thing. From the top yields a poor meat-to-cone ratio, and tilting it sideways carries the very real danger of your single, $12.50 meatball, three inches in diameter, falling into a heap of discarded peanut shells.

Friends, you can wash off the pomodoro. But the shame remains.

I get it—ballpark food these days, in its constant striving for the most Fieri-esque permutation of melted cheese and fry grease, is low-hanging fruit. ESPN’s Darren Rovell seems to tweet a new monstrosity from a different stadium every day: a pulled pork, schnitzel, and bacon sandwich at Padres games, a two-foot, tamale-filled hot dog at Rangers games, a $16 ham-and-cheese swaddled in a bacon-wrapped pretzel baguette at Diamondbacks games, Munchkin and chicken skewers at the minor-league Hartford Yard Goats.

But in all of these cases, you can at least catch a whiff of imagination. I give credit to the enterprising soul who thought to fry wads of brisket in funnel cake batter, top it with powdered sugar, and call it a “Texas Snowball.” In contrast, the Fenway Park meatball cone leaves little room for mystery. It is a ball of meat unlovingly jammed into a cone of chewy bread. It is a meatball sub in denial.

It is what it is.