This isn’t my first time in front of a plate of Trattoria meat balls.
Truth be told, I have competed in this annual contest in the past. A challenge to see who can eat the most meatballs in the allotted time. This was over 5 years ago at the Kitsilano location during their Khatsahlano block party. I went so far as to make it to the second round. Therefore, to be able to compete and relived my glory days, was a treat today.
This would be Park Royal’s first go at this test of stomachs. Ran a week after the Kits location completed their’s. Competitors are arranged in groups of 4, with 3 rounds in total. Within each heat, the first and second place winner advances to the finals. The first rounds sees 7 balls to a plate and gives contestants 2 minutes to eat as much as they can. The rules: fork and knife must be used to keep it “civilized”. And the only liquid you can use is the water provided table side. When the bell tolls contestants begin, and when the buzzer sounds hand are up and the count is done. As was the case last time, this was done in front of a live audience, but on this occasion live on radio as well. A table stationed in front of the Z.95 radio booth, broadcasting live on location, on radio. .
My first ever bout in 2017 had me hungrier than usual. I ran on empty and had practice participating in other large portion eating challenges around town. This is where I ate in a frenzy and took 4 balls to make it to round 2. In round 2 I was not hungry and was done with the taste and texture of the meatballs. Therefore, for I found myself swallowing chunks of meat like pills with no chewing. Then and there, II did not make it to the finals and sadly did not so this this time again.
My strategy was quick but steady. Chew, swallow, and eats as much as you can, cause you are adequately hungry. But alas I was left with 3 meatballs standing and all the others in my heat tied with one a-piece left.
Having most recently done this, I can confirm that nerves do play a factor. I found my hand shaking as I held the flimsy cutlery. My opponent next to me has his plastic snap due to the pressure. At least this time around I enjoyed my serving, and there was plenty enough to pack it to go.
Sadly my time in the hot seat ended here. I removed myself so they could prepare for the 3rd heat. At the end of the first phase of competition there were 6 individuals that made it to the finals. And after a 30 minute break they would compete once more with 5 minutes to eat 17 meatballs. A task where our winner came close to doing, as only 1 ball and a literal mouthful remained.
At this point, I had already grabbed a table within Trattoria and was sitting down to a full dinner with a friend.
But first a bottle of red to help me mourn my lost. And if you are at an Italian restaurant and doing pasta, it has to be a rich red.
If looking for pasta, I highly recommend their Pasta Platter that serves 2 to 3 individuals for $60. And on it you get 4 different types of pasta that typically ranges from $22-25 (as a whole dish for one). This is a great way to try as much as you, and it still fills.
The truffled spaghetti & signature meatballs was my favourite of our four pasta samplers. Due to the dominat truffle butter/cream that sat atop of the perfectly al dente noodles. A melty mix that gave an otherwise bland dish some much needed personality. At this point I was done with meatballs, finding them less appetizing with a solid centre and a smooth texture; where you want your balls lumpy and chewy with plenty of salt and tangy sauce.
The mushroom ravioli was light and fresh for the hotter season. A thick chewy wrapper housing porcini brodo. I could have used more earthy mushrooms to better balance out the ratio of stuffed pasta to fresh ingredients. Especially as there were plenty of gem tomatoes, peas, goats cheese, and crispy enoki for freshness and garnish. The peas and juicy tomatoes made all the difference here.
I liked the Rigatoni Bolognese with beef, veal & pork ragu, tomato sauce, parmesan, herbs. This was a classic red sauce pasta. Thick chewy noodles, plenty of flavourful meat. No complaints.
Last was the Linguine Gamberi. A sweet (from the tomato sauce) and salty (from all the pickled items) pasta with plenty to sort though. Pawns, capers, olives, chilies, roasted tomato, and aglio e olio.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a quick and simple, yet delicious and hearty dishes, that won’t break the bank? Trattoria is a favourite for many, for a reason.
Trattoria Park Royal
757 Main St, Park Royal S, West Vancouver, BC V7T 0A5