Meatball Mania in Morristown

By Berit Ollestad

This definitely wasn’t your traditional Sunday afternoon meatball dinner at grandma’s house.

Unless, of course, your grandma is named Millie and you invite the Morristown Ambulance Squad over to make sure that none of your 14 closest buddies goes into cardiac arrest.

In what is sure to become an annual event, Millie’s Old World Meatballs & Pizza hosted an all-you-can-eat meatball eating contest  to commemorate “National Meatball Day.”

The first-round winner, David Brunelli of Pennsylvania, walked away $500 richer and, perhaps more importantly, with bragging rights as “Morristown’s Top Meathead.”

He earned this distinction by packing away 15 balls in a mere four minutes.

Photos by Berit Ollestad. Please click icon below for captions.

Round Two’s 15 hopefuls started out full of promise, but in a matter of minutes (four, to be precise) things took a turn for the worse, judging by the glazed, almost-comatose look that came over their faces.

Thankfully, the paramedics were keeping a watchful eye in case the balls got out of hand.

Winner Joe Menchetti came all the way from Cheshire, CT. Joe is no stranger to all-you-can-eat competitions. He has traveled far and wide to maintain his midriff.

BITING OFF MORE THAN THEY CAN CHEW? Contestants in the first 'Man vs. Meatball' challenge at Millie's in Morristown. Photo by Berit Ollestad

BITING OFF MORE THAN THEY CAN CHEW? Contestants in the first ‘Man vs. Meatball’ challenge at Millie’s in Morristown. Photo by Berit Ollestad

You’ve heard the expression “this isn’t my first rodeo”? Well, this wasn’t Joe’s first foray into the world of meatball-gorging, either. Menchetti claims he downed more than 20 balls at a contest near Chicago.

While quick to point out that “the meatballs were similar in size,” he noted that he had seven whole minutes to complete his mission in that competition.

To prepare for these waist-busting events, Menchetti typically skips breakfast. Prior to Sunday’s challenge in Morristown, he ate his last bite before bedtime at 2 am and then went cold turkey, figuratively.

A sudden-death round was necessary for Millie’s afternoon heat, with three munchers tied for second place with a paltry nine balls apiece.

Each contestant was given four additional meatballs, with one minute to scarf them down. John Squibb won $100 for his efforts.

Perhaps there should be an amateurs category next year. Because these guys are old pros.

All three winners of Sunday’s “ball blow-out” are part of an informal network of mangia machines who follow the all-you-can-eat circuit.

Their bromance includes appearances at last summer’s New Jersey State BBQ Championship in Wildwood.

Where will Menchetti display his coveted meatball trophy?

“It’ll probably be upstairs for about a month or so until my wife says ‘get that thing out of here,’” he said. “And then I’ll take it down to the man-cave with all the other ridiculous trophies and over-sized checks that I’ve won in the past.”

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