ASTORIA — Daniela DelGiorno and Bill Morris are finally getting the ball rolling on their culinary dream.
The Astoria couple has been cooking together for years, but are branching out this summer with Bill's Balls, a line of artisanal meatball sandwiches they plan to peddle at street fairs and food markets.
"We've always cooked together and made meatballs," said DelGiorno, adding that they both come from large Italian families where meatballs are a staple.
They started experimenting with different recipes, with a plan to one day turn their passion for cooking into a business venture.
"Meatballs became popular over the last couple of years so we thought this was a really great time," she said, pointing to a rise in the number of artisanal food markets and food trucks in the city.
Morris said their sandwiches are unique because the meat flavors are customized with their sauces and toppings.
"Other vendors, they do one meatball and they add sauces — they’ll have like six or seven sauces that you can mix or match. What we have basically is each sauce is customized to the individual meatball," he said.
Their menu lineup take its cues from different types of cuisine from around the city, and around the world.
The "Bill's Original" is a classic Italian beef meatball — made from tweaked versions of their own family recipes — served with spicy marinara sauce and grated Asiago cheese.
"The Astoria" pays homage to their home neighborhood's Greek roots and features lamb meatballs, garnished with fresh mint and a feta spread.
The Ikea-inspired "Red Hook" is Swedish pork-and-beef meatballs with red currant jelly and chives, while the "Asia Balls" features a pork dumpling-style meatball topped with Thai chili sauce and cabbage-scallion slaw.
"We love all different kinds of food — Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese — and we wanted to incorporate that into what our company was about," DelGiorno said.
The duo is in the process of finalizing a commercial kitchen space. They'll be selling their sandwiches this summer with Clearview Festival Productions, which runs street fairs across the city, including the 30th Avenue Street fair in Astoria.
For now, the business will be a weekend gig — both DelGiorno and Morris have day jobs in the hospitality industry — but they hope to expand it eventually into a full-time job, and to own their own food truck.
The alliterative name Bill's Balls had been decided on years ago, Morris said, during a night out with friends.
"It was probably around a few drinks," he laughed.