Impastato Cellars, Where Cold Is Warm.
Saturday, February 8, 2014.

The football season is over, at least in the only way I care about: there is nothing to get in the way of my Saturday radio show on WWL. Not until LSU baseball begins its interminable blockage. I guess I should be proud that my show survives (with dedicated sponsors, yet) through all this intermittancy.

It was getting dark, cold and rainy as we began to consider dinner. Mary Ann suggested Impastato Cellars in Madisonville, but with no reservations I thought this would be a longshot. (I’d make rezzies if only certain members of my family could ever make up their minds about what they want for dinner.) But when we arrived, Mica (Joe Impastato’s daughter, who with her husband Mike Capritto operates the restaurant) said that she did have a table out on the balcony, if we could wait a few minutes.

The balcony? Did I mention that it was freezing cold and windy out there? Mary Ann prefers discomfort at an outdoor table to pleasant indoor environments. I didn’t think even she would put up with this chill.

But the restaurant enclosed the whole balcony (overlooking a steep drop-off to the lake) in clear plastic awnings, and set a half-dozen gas heaters out there. It was warmer than it was in the dining room.

Joining us were Mary Leigh and The Boy. Their particularities of diet miraculously take in most of Impastato’s menu. It was easy to assemble a happy meal.

Antipasto plate.

Antipasto plate.

It began with a big plate of antipasto: prosciutto, Genoa salami, mortadella, provolone, olives, capers, and roasted red peppers. It looked like enough to serve a roomful of grazers. Or to make one large muffuletta. Somehow, the four of us came close to devouring every scrap of it.

Next (for me), a cup of a creamy artichoke soup. Very tasty, but a little too thick. But that’s the way soups are going all over town lately.

Lentils and pasta.

Lentils and pasta.

In the mains we had quite an assortment. Mary Ann has a taste for a porridgelike semi-soup of lentils with little beads of pasta. She loves its simplicity, rusticity, and salubriousness. It’s not something that grabs me, but if she’s happy, then I’m ecstatic.

Spaghetti and meatball at Impastato Cellars.

Spaghetti and meatball at Impastato Cellars.

The Boy was equally pleased with a large plate (is there any other size here?) of spaghetti and meatballs. Mary Leigh went white, with a hillock of fettuccine Alfredo. It’s identical to the matchless version at Impastato’s in Metairie. Which is to say that I would come here to eat that even if there were nothing else on the menu.

But that’s not how it is. I like the panneed veal, even though it shows another trend. Almost every restaurant serving veal these days is slicing it much too thick, failing to pound it into tenderness, or both. At least they know to cut it across the grain. And the quality of the veal is good.

The restaurant stayed busy all night long, and our table remained convivial, even as the weather became more unpleasant moment by moment.

Impastato Cellars. Madisonville: 240 Highway 22 E. 985-845-4445.

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  1. john on February 18, 2014

    If we ever get to go there, I will be getting the spaghetti for myself and the antipasto to share. My daughter lives about five minutes from there; my wife and I live about an hour away in Gulfport.

    • Gene on February 19, 2014

      Tom, how was the parking when you went? There doesn’t seem to be much of a parking area at the restaurant.

      • Tom Fitzmorris Author on February 20, 2014

        They have barely enough parking in front, but they have more around the side. Not easy to see. Ask about it when you make the necessary reservation.

        Tastefully yours,
        Tom Fitzmorris