Food Network star seeks secret of ‘world’s best meatball’ at Café Martorano in Fort Lauderdale

The Cooking Channel show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” finally found its way to Fort Lauderdale to genuflect before the glory of charismatic restaurateur Steve Martorano’s signature meatball.

Premiering Monday, April 1, at 9 p.m., the episode is led by celebrity chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian, who took a liking to Martorano and the brawny Philly native’s Oakland Park Boulevard landmark, Café Martorano, while in town a couple of years ago for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The episode will have repeated showings on April 2, April 14 and 15.

Martorano is no stranger to television, with appearances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the “Today” show, “The View” and “The Steve Harvey Show,” among others.

“I’m the most famous cook that nobody knows,” he says.

His meatball has been a celebrity since Gourmet magazine, more than a decade ago, touted the flavorful orb as what “may be the best meatball in the world.”

On “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” which brought cameras to Café Martorano about eight weeks ago, Food Network stars describe a dish they feel particularly passionate about, then visit chefs and cooks in the kitchens where the must-try meal is made to divine the secret behind its preparation.

Martorano’s baseball-sized meatball includes veal, beef and pork, with a new batch hand rolled and pan fried every afternoon, and comes staged in a pool of the Sunday gravy his mother used to make, with a salad and dollop of house-made ricotta. Cost: $23. It’s the most popular appetizer at Café Martarano, selling 500 a week, 100 each on Friday and Saturday.

The secret — and the expense — is in the gravy, which includes San Marzano tomatoes, beef and pork braciole, pigs’ feet and sausage.