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The Meatball Shoppe

The Meatball Shoppe is owned by Pieter deJonge, an affable Hamiltonian who goes by the name “Meat Pete”. He comes by it honestly; the former farmer and food manufacturer knows his meat – and cares intensely about where it comes from.

“I wanted to (make) a real connection with farms and serving food to people,” says deJonge, who grew up on a farm and previously worked in the meat processing industry. “I like supporting local farmers and local industry. I always felt like there was a need in the market for something, a product like I’m doing.”

That product: A series of meatball-based sandwiches and other dishes, based around deJong’s secret recipe. A local producer mixes up the meatballs with local beef and pork, plus spices; Hamilton’s Bonanza Bakery supplies the buns, and deJonge makes his own sauces. “It all comes together, and we make a great product, and people seem to like it. (Their motto: “gate to plate” – as in farm gate.)

The top seller is their meatball sub, which features romaine lettuce, freshly-roasted peppers and onions, marinara and creamy garlic-basil sauce, shredded cheese, and a few of those sizeable meatballs (which deJonge roasts from scratch right on the truck in a specially-built oven). The other crowd-pleaser, true to Canadian form, is their meatball poutine, which features a couple of meatballs, classic gravy, shredded cheese, a drizzle of that garlic-basil sauce and a sprinkle of cilantro. (For the vegetarians, he adds, they’ve got veggie balls, made from brown lentils, mushrooms, carrots, celery, and a bit of egg, Parmesan and thyme.)

Other faves include their meatball Caesar salad, as well as a few specialties that pay homage to deJonge’s Dutch heritage. The Dutch croquette is a breaded, fried patty of shredded beef roast served up on a bun, while the “Dutch hot dog” (or frikandel) is a flavourful sausage with a bit of a kick.

As for where to sample these carnivorous delights: Torontonians might be out of luck (or forced to travel), as deJonge is planning to stick to his stomping grounds of Hamilton for the time being. “There’s enough business in Hamilton, I find, to do curbside, with all these events going on. It’s been busy down here.”

This summer will see them appearing at Ancaster’s Holy Food Truck market every Tuesday, the St. Elizabeth Village rally every Wednesday, Locke St. East in downtown Hamilton on Thursdays, Gore Park in Hamilton on Fridays, and at Confederation Park or other events on Saturdays. With a summer season this busy, you’ll have plenty of chances to meet Pete.

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