We are thrilled to introduce one of our most recent additions to the Tembo Family and the latest Sylva, NC staple from our dear friends Chef Santiago Guzzetti and Crystal Pace. Please welcome Meatballs Pizzeria! Learn more about their story, their menu, and more below.
Although this establishment just opened earlier this year, the story of Meatballs began over 40 years ago with Crystal’s mother, Karen Martar: a wild Italian woman who was destined to change a small mountain town forever. Karen moved from bustling New York to the quiet village of Sylva, North Carolina, armed with a cherished family meatball recipe and endless ambition. In 1983, she opened the aptly named “Meatballs” on Main Street where she served up delicious pizza and, of course, her famous meatball recipe. People didn’t just come for the cuisine, though. Karen’s positive energy, outgoing personality, and love for her community quickly made an impact on all who visited. That passion for her new hometown extended well outside the doors of Meatballs as she dedicated countless hours of service as a Guardian ad Litem, Treasurer for ARF, and member of the town’s zoning board. Sylva fell in love with her just as she fell in love with Sylva, and having your picture displayed on the walls of her restaurant even became one of the most esteemed status symbols that locals could achieve.
The closure of Meatballs in 2000, followed by Karen’s passing in 2007, truly left a void in this tight-knit community. Sylva Mayor Brenda Oliver described Karen’s passing as “a loss to the town”, and locals mourned both the loss of a dear friend and a gathering place where countless memories were made. 23 years after Meatballs closed its doors, Karen’s daughter Crystal Pace and her husband Chef Santiago Guzzetti re-established this iconic Sylva eatery right across from their award-winning Italian restaurant, Ilda. Today, they carry on Karen’s legacy of good food inspired by a loving community and promise to keep the flame of her memory burning bright. With a unique menu of wood-fired pizzas, draft beers from neighboring Innovation Brewing, and that famous meatball recipe, each visit is sure to leave you with a smile!
The Meatballs menu offers an excellent variety of wood-fired pizzas to please all palates, which is divided into two sections. The “1983” section, which pays homage to the opening year of the original Meatballs, contains some familiar favorites like Pepperoni, Four Cheese, and the legendary Karen’s Meatball Pie. The “2023” section, which pays homage to the opening year of the new restaurant, contains more unique, world-inspired options for those feeling adventurous. Creations like the Shrimp Diavolo, Pear & Balsamic, and Porco Supremo are sure to have your tastebuds dancing!
There’s much more than just pizza as well. Appetizer and shareable options include salads, hummus, a meatball sub, and even a special calzone of the day. Wash it all down with a refreshing draft beer from Innovation or a craft cocktail created by world-class mixologist, Antoine Hodge, and if you have any room left, finish with a seasonal dessert or their decadent peanut butter pie.
Tembo Hospitality Group is thrilled to embark on this journey with Meatballs Pizzeria, and we are honored to play a role in ensuring Karen Martar’s legacy lives on. Next time you’re in Western North Carolina, give our friends a visit at the end of Main Street in Sylva and discover why Meatballs is a true local icon!