In Italy, spaghetti and meatballs can be found, but only at restaurants that might find a number of tourists. There are at a few tourists in Venice during the warmer months, I did notice. I was in Venice last month, and during a ramble around many of its famous landmarks, we stumbled upon Osteria al Diavolo e L'Acquasanta in Venice not far from the Rialto Bridge. It turned out to be serendipitous stop. We each enjoyed our lunchtimes choices, and the Sauvignon from the Collio more than aptly complemented our seafood items and provided some very refreshing and numbing liquid enjoyment on a warm afternoon. My young nephew, who for a couple of weeks in Italy, ordered spaghetti al pomodoro (spaghetti in a tomato sauce), fried calamari, or spaghetti and meatballs for nearly every meal if pizza wasn’t served. Osteria al Diavolo e ‘Acaquasanta had spaghetti and meatballs, and so did he. (OK, it turned out to actually be linguine and meatballs, but not no matter).
He loved it. I got a taste or two of the meatballs and those were terrific. Soft and delicious, its mild, slightly meaty flavor went very well with the tasty tomato-based acidity of the light and fresh-tasting sauce covering it and the pasta. The meatballs were made with seemingly equal portions of ground pork, veal and beef. I am pretty sure that is what I got from the waiter; thankfully his English was far better than my Italian. These were the type of tender, very savory meatballs I wish I could make at home on a regular basis and some of the very best meatballs that I have had in a while. These were much better than one might expect from a restaurant where only not-so-demanding, and often younger, tourists would ever order the dish.
I just saw, after returning home, that Anthony Bourdain filmed a part of his No Reservations show at Osteria al Diavolo e L'Acquasanta in 2009. He didn’t eat spaghetti and meatballs, of course. He might have actually enjoyed them, though.