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VH1's Meatball King of New Jersey


Johnny “Meatballs”

A Chat With VH1’s Johnny “Meatballs”

By Anthony Carrea


As a pot of gravy simmers on the stove, a fresh batch of Italian meatballs has just finished cooking.  The aroma of the meatballs and gravy is a reminder to everyone that another big Italian Sunday dinner is coming their way.  Luckily for them, it is being prepared by the most famous meatball of all.  His name is John Michael “Meatballs” DeCarlo, and he is “The Meatball King of New Jersey.” 


Meatballs is a husband and father first but he didn’t get the name “The Meatball King” for nothing. He can cook, there’s no doubt about that, but he also looks the part. 


He has Italian features with dark eyes and spiky black hair and usually sports an Italian horn or a black leather jacket.  He’s a cook, writer and even singer but more importantly he is an entrepreneur. Every day “Meatballs,” or JM as his family calls him, does something to build up the Johnny Meatballs Empire, and today is no different.


It was the first day of filming for Johnny’s reality show “My Big Friggin Wedding”.  All of Johnny’s immediate family attended and were greeted by an array of cameras and microphones when they first walked in.  If they didn’t know better, they would think they just walked onto a movie set. 


After everyone arrived the smorgasbord of Italian food was laid out on the table. The crowd then took their seats with the cameras looming over head.  “Mangi!” chimed in Johnny as the sausage, meatballs and chicken marsala spewed with steam.


These cameras and microphones would hang over “Meatballs,” shoulder for the entire summer.  Every hour in his life would be closely documented, but so far it’s all worth it.  “My Big Friggin Wedding” aired on Monday, Nov. 1 and it is already helping him achieve some of his goals.


Thanks to Lucas Prada, Angelo Venuto and a cigar roller, he threw the ultimate “Jersey Italian” wedding, which he always wanted.  Recording a song, writing a book and having his frozen meatballs available on store shelves are also in his sights. 


“I was only in a recording studio once when I sang ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ down in Disney World when I was 6,” Johnny said.  He would continue where he left off on Monday recording a song of his own called “The Meatball Song.”


He worked with a highly successful dance music star named L.P. and his producer, who helped transform what was once a fun song about meatballs he would sing to himself while he sculpted his round creations. From the moment Johnny walked in the studio, he knew L.P. would help him spice up the song just like his meatballs.


I walked into L.P.’s studio with a hot tray of meatballs in hand (of course).  Although L.P. is a die-hard Mets fan and I bleed Yankee pinstripes, we were on the same page with how we could kick things up a notch or two.”


As the process began, Johnny was surprised that it took well over an hour of singing to record a three-minute track and that did not even count the before and after process.  An hour in his life Monday was recording a song, but if you check back on Friday, maybe he’ll be writing a book or even flying to the moon – with him you never know. 


It was interesting that before the producer even hit play there was a lengthy collaborating process.  Ideas are bounced off each other like meatballs being flipped on the frying pan. 


When the recording process actually starts, much of it is singing verses over and over so they can take the best ones and combine them so it sounds perfect.  That’s the main reason why singers never seem like they are gasping for air on any recorded songs.  “I’m no Sinatra and I found myself out of breath a number of times,” said ‘The Meatball King.’”


Besides what he hopes to be a new hit single, it sure has been an eventful week.  He interviewed with the newspaper the Bergen Record and the show The Inside Edition and that is all while busy writing for his weekly blog “The Cugine Corner,” doing video segments at restaurants and taking care of his 4-month-old son Christian. 


Every part of his business revolves around meatballs, so let’s not forget that he actually has to make them.  He has teamed up with Star Ravioli in order to mass produce the balls of veal, pork and beef.  His frozen dinners, called “Johnny’s Meatballs In Sunday Gravy,” are sold at Corrado’s Market so Johnny must spend days upon end rolling and cooking meatballs at his warehouse in Moonachie, NJ. 


The meatballs are more than just rolled up fried meat with a touch of his secret spices.  They are building blocks that will help him achieve his lifelong goal of having his own cooking show on the food network.  With each meatball rolled, he gets one step closer to self-actualization. 


The radio tour on 10 different stations nationwide doesn’t hurt the cause, either. 


Johnny “Meatballs” is someone that can be a great role model for anyone because of his determination and relentless pursuit of his dream.  So many people give up on what they REALLY want to do. 


He has created meatball mania through his excellent self marketing skills and by attacking all the mediums.  He’s on the TV and radio, has columns in newspapers and on the internet, but the easiest way to find the self proclaimed “Jersey Goumba” is to follow the trail of meatballs.