PASTIFICIO, 1528 Packer Avenue (Packer Park Shopping Center), South Philadelphia.

Owners Anthony Messina and Frankie Sangiuliano have something good going. They were in my Italian hoagie finals a few years back. Everything I’ve ever tried there, from chicken cutlet sandwiches to take out frozen pasta has been outstanding.

So, no surprise that the meatballs are up to snuff. You can buy them from the freezer case (behind the “Got balls?” sign) or on a fresh-made sandwich for $5.99 or $7.99. The “Meatball Special” comes with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. The more-standard “Meatball Parmigiana” comes with marinara and shredded mozzarella. And great mozzarella it is.


(Photo credit: Glen Macnow/WIP)

Pastificio uses the old-fashioned blend of beef, veal and pork. “Anything else,” says Messina, “is fugazi.” Hey, who am I to argue? They’ve got the pecorino Romano cheese and all the requisite spices.

Each sandwich comes with a generous amount of golf-ball-sized meatballs cut in half. The roll, from Abruzzi Bakery, is topnotch. Overall, a top-caliber product. I usually bring an eating partner or two on these food hunts (the better not to gain 50 pounds), and at Pastificio, I was in no mood to share.

Score: 83/100