You don't hear much about Rocky and Carlo's outside of southern Louisiana, but locals know it as a culinary gem. Located out in St. Bernard Parish, where hurricane Katrina's devastation is still very much in evidence, the reborn restaurant is a spacious eating hall featuring that little-appreciated but essential confluence of local cuisine – Italian-Cajun-Dixie fare. Walk along the cafeteria line and select from a broad hot-lunch menu that includes pork chops with greens, braciola, veal parm, stuffed peppers, muffalettas, fried shrimp or oysters, and gorgeous baked chicken. The blackboard menu also lists wop salad, the locals' politically incorrect term for garlic-bathed iceberg lettuce with green olives, and many customers come for the excellent po boys and hamburgers sided by sensationally luscious fried onions.

No matter what you eat at Rocky and Carlo's, the single dish that demands attention is the inconspicuous menu listing, "macaroni." There is none better. Very different from typical mac 'n' cheese made with elbow noodles, this mountain of baked pasta is built from substantial percatelli tubes that come plastered with orange cheese – tender gobs from the the heart, chewy strips from the top, and crisp webbed bark from the casserole's edge. Some people get it topped with sweet red marinara sauce or glistening mahogany brown gravy, both of which are very good; but this world-class macaroni needs no adornment whatsoever.
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By: Parabellum


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