by Eren Tataragasi

CORNELIUS – Take note: Meatballs on Main is not an Italian restaurant.

Sure, folks might associate meatballs with traditional Italian cuisine, but owners Ann Quagliato and Kelly Oyama are creating a menu that is anything but traditional.

In the 1907-built house at 20517 N. Main St., that was once the location of The Tea House and later the Creole House, Quagliato and Oyama have created a fun, quirky environment with a unique menu.

The pair have been working on the restaurant itself for only three months, but the idea has been stewing for a while. The concept for Meatballs on Main came from a New York restaurant that served only meatballs.

Here in Cornelius, Quagliato and
Oyama have created what they call a “concept menu” because there will be different types of meatballs, made from beef, pork, chicken and vegetables, different sauces and different bases, like pasta, mashed potatoes, rice, white beans, french fries or sandwich bread.

“A lot of people think meatballs and think of an Italian restaurant, but we’re nowhere near Italian,” Quagliato said, who is Italian. “Most Italian meatballs, when I was growing up my grandma would make them with beef, pork and tomato sauce. But this will be different sauces and not necessarily on pasta. You could have a meatball in chimichurri sauce or an Asian meatball with peanut sauce.”

She said the restaurant will also do weekly meatball specials with unique meatball and sauce pairings.

“There will be no lasagna,” Quagliato said. “We’re not Italian, we’re a concept restaurant. I think restaurants today are so unique and they’re more concept/fusion. People are getting away from traditional and want something unique and fun in today’s restaurants.”

And as much of a change in palate the restaurant might provide customers, it’s also going to be a change of pace for Quagliato and Oyama who own the bar Wine Up in Charlotte.

“We’re getting old and we’re tired of the 2 and 3 a.m., so we were looking for something different,” Quagliato said.

Oyama has owned several bars and restaurants, attended culinary school and worked in the food and hospitality industry for most of her life.

“We were looking for a change and decided this could be fun,” Quagliato said.

And while Quagliato enjoys the business and operations side of things, Oyama likes being in the kitchen and she’ll oversee the chef and prep chef they’ve hired to create the masterful meatballs.

With an anticipated opening of next week, Quagliato said Oyama and their chef have been busy trying different recipes.

“I’ve eaten a lot of meatballs lately,” she said.

Once the restaurant opens they’ll be open for lunch and dinner, staying open a little later on Friday and Saturdays. She said the restaurant’s website,, should be online soon featuring the menu and fun facts about the house and owners.

“We just want people to know this is a fun place to come and eat and have a drink, bring your family,”’ Quagliato added. “What kid doesn’t like meatballs and french fries?”