This is the Meatless Meatball Sandwich...
...and it is spectacular.
Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles for more than 10 years can tell you that the restaurant scene in the city has morphed and changed into one of the finest culinary destinations on the planet. LA’s ethnic enclaves produce some of the best Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Italian, and Chinese food restaurants in the world.
Not to be left behind is the plant-based revolution that has coincided with the city’s dining transformation. Whether you’re looking for high-end fare like what the wizards create at Crossroads Kitchen or the unique Vietnamese delights at Âu Lạc, or the Mexican treats at Gracias Madre, or the burger concoctions at Monty’s, there is now a plant-based choice for just about any type of eater.
Now entering into the discussion of the most delicious plant-based options is the fast-casual joint Brothers Meatballs in the heart of Hollywood.
It’s not easy to wax poetic about sub-sandwiches, but there’s something to be said about a perfectly toasted hoagie roll that’s dripping with homemade tomato sauce, oozing mozzarella and parmesan, and stuffed with giant, succulent meatballs.
And all of that is an illusion.
“Don’t tell mama it’s plant-based!” says Sergio Corbia, the chef behind the creations and one of two Sardinian brothers who teamed up with second-generation Italian chef Mark Mittleman to form the Brothers’ team.
The Corbia brothers (Sergio and older brother Mauro) aren’t new to the LA dining scene. They already run the next door Italian joint Fabiolus, and Mauro is famous for his celeb-loved Mauro’s Café inside uber-fashionable Fred Segal.
But their roots are pure Sardinia. The brothers hail from the seaside town of Alghero on the northwest end of the Italian island. The hamlet is known for its Catalan architecture, dual language (Catalan and Alguerès), and some of the planet’s best octopus, sardines, and cannonau wines. Sardinia is also considered one of the world’s Blue Zones, known for its people’s exceptional longevity due to their healthy diets and non-sedentary lifestyles.
With this culture in their blood, the Brothers journey to plant-based eating was a long-time coming. “We wanted to do this for a number of reasons. There’s the health side. We wanted to help the planet, because eating too much meat is a planetary problem. We believe in animal rights and we think there are environmental reasons as well.” Sergio and Mauro remarked.
The brothers are mainly pescatarian at this point (can’t take Sardinia completely out of them), but their desire for a healthier planet through their food comes across in every item on the menu.
The team uses Impossible Meat for their delectable meatballs, and it would be hard to discern any difference from the real thing. Menu highlights run the gamut from their classic meatball sub and eggplant parm made with gluten free crispy eggplant to a Bianco Truffle meatball sandwich and a Melanzana Lasagna.
Like most great Italian chefs, the brothers were inspired by their mother and her stunning Sunday suppers for the family. During the pandemic, they had ample time to do research and development and decided to take their mother’s beloved recipes and turn them into something healthy for the consumer and better for the planet.
The 30-seat restaurant is littered with old-school photos from the brother’s albums along with leather banquettes, a chic bar where the cannonau pours freely, and outdoor tables where you can witness the good, the bad, and the ugly flowing along Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street.
The delight of Brothers is that everything is made in-house. From the bread to the sauces to the meatballs, each item is plucked from mama and turned into a plant-based gem. Two real standouts are actually the chocolate and limoncello panna cottas that defy understanding when you taste the creamy consistency and realize there’s no cream in these recipes.
Plant-based food in Los Angeles has truly come a long way, and the Corbia Brothers are adding to the growing canon of excellent options. But as you bite into your meatless meatballs and the mouthfeel is indistinguishable from the real thing, remember to ask the Brothers their favorite question, “wait, this isn’t meat?”