Mark Pica is a Jersey City native who currently lives in Toms River. Last summer he began a meatball binge that took him all over New Jersey. He visited over 30 eateries based on recommendations and posted his opinions also known as "Picas Pics" on his Facebook page.

While Pica says he doesn't consider himself a food critic, he does love excellent food and voicing his personal opinion on meatballs. He's become somewhat of an expert based on his X's and O's breakdown of each meatball. Pica called into my New Jersey 101.5 show.

What does Pica consider a great meatball?

"An excellent Meatball needs to be slightly moist, not dry or bready. You should immediately be able to taste its flavor, a bit of a soft crunch never hurts as well. Since it’s seasoning but shouldn’t be overwhelming. Last, everyone loves garlic, so you should taste its presence but it can’t be dominant."

After visiting over thirty meatball places, these are the Top New Jersey meatballs according to Picas Pics all getting a 5 thumbs up and in order·

Grandma’s Meatballs / Manasquan


"That's my favorite," says Pica. "They make two meatballs. The one that I preferred was obviously the Sicilian. Dare to say meatballs off the charts. It's baked. It's a big meatball. It's three meats. That is the key to their success and it's the same meat that a lot of people know that some people don't. but it's made with Believe it or not. Pignoli nuts and raisins. It gives it a sweet taste. Don't take it the wrong way. You're not gonna bite into a meatball and see a raisin. it just gives it that taste that just it's outstanding."

Ristorante da Benito / Union


"Another good stop," says Pica "You got Donnie and Benny over there. The owners. They're great people father and son team and their key to success now is they only make the meatballs on Thursday night. Because the meatballs ground meat only filet mignon. Picture that! How good do you think that'd be?"

Mama Rao’s Kitchen / East Hanover


"He does a nice job. You know, he makes them by himself in the back of the kitchen. They're all beef and he bakes them as well. Very, very good. Very good."

Butcher Block / Long Branch


"Butcher Block is the Butcher Block," says Pica "Everybody knows the Butcher Block just got a great name in the state of New Jersey. Fried meatball Angus beef you know another product that's off the charts."

Assaggini Di Roma / Hazlet

"A friend of mine took me out to dinner one night and he took me to this Italian restaurant Hazlet and I said I got to try to meatballs," says Pica. It was excellent. I would have never known about this place. It was a small little Italian restaurant, excellent people. Very good people."

Angelo’s Ristorante / Lyndhurst


"Tiny little meatball but very tasty," says Pica. "We're talking about Angelos don't know if you've been there or not if you want a nice manicotti, the best on the planet, the manicotti he makes there, It's unbelievable."

Honorable Mention: Scala's Italian Deli / Toms River

"Anthony and his 86-year-old mother. She makes them by hand every day she goes in. She uses three meats, 70% of the meat is pork, twenty percent is beef and 10% is veal. And that's the key to their success over at Scalas Italian Deli."

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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