22 Ağustos 2011 Pazartesi

About Michael Chernow

New York restaurateur Michael Chernow knew that dropping a late-night meatball joint into the mayhem of rock clubs and hipster dives on the Lower East Side would be a success... but perhaps not this much of a success.

"We pulled the paper off the windows and there were literally 150 people waiting outside," says Chernow from a table skirting the sidewalk of The Meat­ball Shop. That was February. Multiply the crowd by 10 and that's an aver­age weekend these days. The meatball idea evolved "out of nowhere," but the restaurant is exactly what Chernow pictured when he and co-owner Daniel Holzman schemed as kids to one day open a place of their own. Long before he wrote the all-meatball menu, Chernow wrote his life story in ink.

"It means 'strength and power,'" the native New Yorker explains, rotating his arm to show the Sanskrit text from a drunken trip down Hollywood Boulevard when he was 18. "I was in a bad place. I went through hell and back when I was young, and I needed to find some of both." As Chernow battled his way to sobriety, he added tributes to the people who inspired strength, first a horseshoe around his elbow in memory of his horse trainer father, and then a sleeve by Inborn's Ray Jerez. Three monkeys from a family statuesee no evil, hear no evil, speak no evilperch over a cascade of Mom's favorite orchids, crowned at the shoulder by an elephant his Buddhist grandmother credits to be good luck. And Chernow's wife, Donna, a model-cum-pastry chef responsible for the restaurant's killer ice cream sand­wiches, was the inspiration behind one of the two massive angels on his back and a spiritually significant phrase across his stomach.

"Every tattoo I have has a story behind it," says the extraordinarily grounded bartending vet and graduate of the French Culinary Institute. "But I have to schedule, like, five appointments at a time or else I'll be covered in ink." Good thing, because there's temptation. Troy Denning sometimes stops into The Meatball Shop three times a day, and the guys from Invisible NYC, Daredevil, and New York Adorned are all regulars. "I would love to trade meatballs for tat­toos," Chernow adds with a playful glint in his eyes, "but no one's taken me up on that yet." Wait 'til they try the spicy pork balls.

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