The Story of Meatballs and Karen Martar
Our story hails from a wild Italian woman who changed a town forever. A family meatball recipe carried Karen Martar from New York to the mountain town of Sylva, where she opened the aptly named Meatballs in 1983. Serving up delicious pizza and the mouthwatering meatballs she learned to make from her family, her restaurant was a staple on Main Street for 17 years: so much so that having your picture displayed on the wall was considered “One of the most esteemed status symbols of the time” by locals.
While Karen was opening the doors of her beloved restaurant, she was also opening the hearts of those in and around the community as she volunteered countless hours to make Sylva a better place. She was a Guardian ad Litem, protecting neglected and abused children in the area. She was the Treasurer for ARF, where she raised money to care for abandoned dogs and cats across Jackson County. She even served on the town’s zoning board, passionately advocating for fair regulations at a time Sylva truly needed a voice of reason. It’s easy to see why, upon Karen’s passing in 2007, Mayor Brenda Oliver described her death as “a loss to the town”.
Today, Karen’s daughter, Crystal Pace, carries her legacy of good food inspired by a loving community. Crystal and her husband, Chef Santiago Guzzetti, are thrilled to re-establish this staple on Main Street in Sylva while ensuring the flame of Karen Martar’s memory continues to burn bright. From wood-fired pizza pies to the classic meatball recipe our town knows and loves, we hope each visit has you leaving with a smile.