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Delaware North Chef’s Meatballs a Hit at New Meadowlands Stadium

Using his grandmother’s recipe, Eric Borgia and his staff have made 100,000 meatballs fresh at the stadium this season

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Dec. 29, 2010) – When it comes to New York-New Jersey foods, it’s hard to look past a good old-fashioned Italian favorite – the meatball. New Meadowlands Stadium Executive Chef Eric Borgia, a native of the region, thought the same thing when developing menu items with a hometown feel for New York Jets and New York Giants fans.
Using his own grandmother’s recipe, Borgia and his Delaware North Companies Sportservice staff have spent the first season at the new stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., making about 5,000 meatballs for each game to serve in concessions and premium areas.
“It’s been meatball fever over here,” Borgia said with a laugh. “We go through almost 1,000 just feeding the stadium staff and for catering.”
During some tastings prior to the season, Borgia’s signature meatball was endorsed not only by Sportservice President Rick Abramson, but also Jets owner Woody Johnson. It’s been a huge success in the pilot year, selling well above expectations. Borgia estimates more than 100,000 meatballs will have been enjoyed in hoagies and separate servings by the time the season ends Sunday.
“Nonna Fusco’s Meatballs,” branded as a tribute to Borgia’s late grandmother, Antoinette Fusco, are made of beef, pork, veal, basil and garlic. A unique touch is that they are hand-rolled with a touch of dry white wine.
Eight members of Borgia’s large culinary staff at the stadium spend time each week preparing the meatballs. He refers to them as the “Meatball Moms.”
“It’s just like at home,” Borgia said. “You have this group of mothers, all of whom are awesome cooks, hand-rolling these meatballs to perfection.”
Although the process of making the meatballs from scratch takes a bit longer than using a prepackaged, ready-to-cook product, Borgia believes the homemade taste and feel is what sells.
“When people walk by one of our kitchens, they see action,” Borgia said. “They like that action, because they know the food is fresh and that we aren’t just throwing frozen meatballs in an oven.”
Borgia is also ready to win over new Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson. After spending the previous nine seasons in San Diego, the future hall-of-famer told the New York Times in May that he couldn’t wait to try some New York-style Italian food.
“I’m not sure if L.T. (Tomlinson) has tried the meatballs yet or not,” Borgia said. “But I can guarantee they’ll be some of his favorite if he likes a good Italian dish. I’d love to have him try them.”
The meatballs are just one of the regional favorites that have enjoyed success in New Meadowlands Stadium concessions during the stadium’s inaugural season. Among the other “Home Food Advantage” favorites are Taylor ham sandwiches, Italian roast pork sandwiches and pepper and egg sandwiches. Most were recalled by Borgia from his childhood or were scouted by Abramson during several tours of restaurants in the area.
Delaware North Sportservice provides concessions, premium dining and year-round catering at the premier new sports and entertainment venue – worked with the stadium and teams to give football fans exciting new food concepts inspired by local New York and New Jersey restaurants, traditions and fresh regional ingredients.

Borgia oversees all culinary operations at New Meadowlands Stadium. Since joining Delaware North in 2002, Borgia has served in various high-level culinary positions, including as executive chef at the San Diego Padres’ PETCO Park, and at the helm of some of the company’s most prestigious events. Borgia is certified by the American Culinary Federation as a chef de cuisine.

New Meadowlands Meatball Metrics
Meatballs Served per Game
Includes servings and hoagies (3 per hoagie)

1,500 concessions
1,300 clubs
1,200 suites

1,000 catering and staff


5,000 meatballs per game

20 Games (10 Jets and 10 Giants home games, August through Sunday’s Jets vs. Bills game)


100,000 meatballs served during 2010 football season
Chef Eric Borgia’s Italian Meatball Recipe (makes 12 to 16 meatballs)
Mix all ingredients together well. Let sit about 1 hour. Form meatballs with ice cream scoop. Dip hands in wine to finish rolling meatballs. Place on greased (olive oil) pan. Bake 365 degrees for about 25 minutes. Remove and let cool. Add marinara sauce. Simmer for about 2 hours.


2 lbs. ground beef, veal, and pork
2 whole eggs
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup grated Locatelli brand or other Pecorino Romano cheese
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
4 leaves fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
4 oz. marinara sauce
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon dry basil
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Marinara Sauce


Add olive oil, garlic, and onions. Sautee until translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and basil. Let simmer 1/2 hour and then add dry herbs. Continue cooking 1 hour.


2 lbs. whole San Marzano or other plum tomatoes (pureed in blender)
½ lb. fine diced onion
3 clove chopped garlic
4 fresh basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 each bay leaves
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon dried basil