09/30/2011 09:54 am ET | Updated Nov 30, 2011

5 Drool-Worthy Meatballs From New York Food & Wine Festival's Meatball Madness (PHOTOS)

The 2011 New York Wine & Food Festival kicked off in high-gear Thursday night with Meatball Madness hosted by Food Network darling Giada DeLaurentiis. Over 30 restaurants showcased their version of a perfect meatball, and HuffPost Food did our best to try as many as possible...though we learned that after about a dozen meatballs, as different as many of them were, they all started to blend together.

The Little Owl, known for its meatball, won the judge's choice award for its gravy meatball slider while The Meatball Shop, perhaps fittingly, was crowned the people's choice.

While some restaurants went for a more classic meatball approach, others broke out of the meatball comfort zone by using non-typical meats such as duck and rabbit. All in all, we left with bellies full and a new appreciation for the art of the meatball. Check out five of the meatball renditions below and make sure to check back throughout the weekend for more festival updates (and follow us on Twitter @HuffPostFood for live tweets!).

NYCFF Meatballs