Italian ingenuity



Hilton Head Island has earned a mouth-watering new superlative—it’s home to the world’s largest meatball and holds a record to prove it.

Italian cuisine is filled with mouth-watering dishes, but few are as comforting or as classic as spaghetti and meatballs. Or meatball. Just one, weighing 1,700 pounds.

The Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island served up a monster meatball Nov. 18 in its quest to set a world record for the world’s largest. Representatives from The Guinness Book of World Records were on hand, ready to see if the Hilton Head meatball could top the former record-holder, a meatball prepared by an Italian-American Club in Ohio that weighed in at 1,110 pounds.

The Hilton Head team easily rolled over the competition.


The idea was cooked up over dinner a few years ago. IACHH board members Rob Lembo and Christina Belen joked about setting a world record for biggest meatball, and over a few glasses of vino the Meatball Madness Festival Don’t Fuggetaboutit Committee was born.

On Nov. 14, club got the roughly 2,600 pounds of meat cooking in a stainless-steel “pod” and custom large oven engineered by club members Joe Carpinteri and Kevin Lawless. In order to qualify for the world record, the meatball had to be not only large but edible, as well, with the center of the ball reaching 165 degrees. The club used a recipe provided by member Joe Sullivan, owner of Mulberry Street Trattoria in Bluffton.

meatball2Samples of the record-breaking meatball were distributed Nov. 18 at the annual Italian Heritage Festival-Meatball Madness event, which also included a 5K race, other Italian dishes and music.

After the new record was recorded, volunteers from nonprofit Second Helpings helped the club cut up and package the cooked meatball to distribute to partner agencies. Second Helpings rescues food and delivers it to over 60 agencies in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties.

Meatball Madness had been planned as its own event, but Hurricane Irma forced the club to reschedule the Italian Heritage Festival.

The preparing and weighing of the meatball was filmed for the syndicated cable TV show “Small Town Big Deal” to air at a later date.