Editor’s Note: Saucy Burt’s Meatball Cart is now closed.
If you’ve got any doubts about whether the food truck / food cart craze is drawing fresh young talent to the local dining scene, direct your attention to Saucy Burt’s, the new food cart venture being launched today by Sarah Burt.
A year ago, Burt quit her gig in politics to jump into the gastronomy game. “I realized very quickly that working in restaurants, under deadlines, was something I really liked,” she says. Now, after furious study at local spots including La Belle Vie and HauteDish (where she still cooks Sunday brunch), Burt has put her fledgling rep on the line with an unlikely offering: a highbrow meatball sub.
“I spent a lot of time in my Italian grandmother’s kitchen,” Burt says. “She lived in Friuli for about 20 years, and I grew up watching her cook really simple, fresh food. That’s what I’m trying to achieve here. I really like the tradition of Italian-American food in particular — the story of Italian immigrants coming here, using native ingredients, and tweaking their cuisine to fit their new home.”
Three key components go into the sandwich: beef, pork, and veal meatballs made from custom-ground meat from Hackenmueller Meats of Robbinsdale; a bun baked by Italian baker Tony Sisinni of Mainstreet Bakery in Edina; and Alta Cucina brand canned tomatoes, recommended to Burt by Jordan Smith of Black Sheep Pizza.
Of the tomatoes, Burt says: “I like that they have a bright flavor and they taste really fresh. They cost a little more than other varieties, but having a bright flavor is very important.”
Burt will prep her sandwiches in the kitchen of the Black Forest and will truck her cart up to a planned regular spot at Nicollet and 5th. There, she’ll dispense meatball subs for $7 a pop from 11am-3pm on weekdays.
From a flavor perspective, the sandwich is several steps removed from the conventional model. It’s far lighter on its feet. As advertised, the meatballs are rich, meaty, and silky in texture and the marinara is bright with the taste of tomato. “Another thing I do with the sauce is put in a nice healthy dash of balsamic vinegar,” says Burt. “That’s my trick.”
The bun is soft and yielding but durable enough to contain its contents without making a mess. The proportions are harmonious — there’s enough sauce to cover the meatballs without swamping them, and the bun holds the goodies without getting soggy or swamping them.
The overall package is a solid midday meal for a normal appetite — those seeking Leviathan-sized meatball hoagies will leave hungry, while those looking for a savory, portable twist on the standard-issue two-pound grinder stuffed with crusty, bready meatballs will walk away delighted.
One of the most overused and generally irritating words to creep into the food-writing lexicon over the past 10 years is “craveable,” but, there you have it: this thing is truly craveable. Hate the word. Best word for this situation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment downtown.
BEST BET: The meatball sandwich, of course!
On Twitter: @SaucyBurts
Italian meatball sandwich food cart — generally at Nicollet and 5th St
HOURS: Monday-Friday 11am-3pm (subject to weather, etc. — check Twitter)
CHEF / OWNER: Sarah Burt
ENTREE PRICE: $7
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: No