Fantastic Frying

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris November 17, 2022 08:08 in Dining Diary

For many years Tom has regaled us all with his fandom of the roast beef poor boy at DiMartino’s. It seemed that was the only thing he ever got there. Peter DiMartino always said he wished Tom would try something else.

When I started going with Tom we did expand our horizons, mainly because my head was always turning with other things going through the dining room. 

One day I saw a pile of onion rings and my entire frying world changed. Here was an enormous mountain of thin, crispy, golden brown frying perfection. Your fried fantasies on a plate. Once on our table, they definitely did not disappoint. They were crisp, golden brown, and light, with just the right salt and pepper balance. My only complaint was the semi-marinara that comes with them, but a big puddle of ketchup works great.

I thought these onion rings were the ne plus ultras of fried menu items around town until last weekend, when Mary Leigh ordered something she feels as passionately about as Tom does the roast beef here. I never figured her to be a fried eggplant fan, but she is permanently smitten with the DiMartino’s version of this dish, and speaks of it often.

She got some and they arrived piled sideways on a plate, making a most interesting presentation. Thin and irregularly sized, they were a mound of beauty. Crispy with the perfect amount of coating, cardboard thin, and dusted just so with Parmesan cheese. The marinara was generous, thick, and somewhat chunky. 

I had no intention of eating anything fried this day, but they were simply irresistible. The more you ate the more you wanted. A mountain of onion rings landed at an adjacent table and we briefly pondered getting some of those as well, but opted for another supply of these delectable eggplant strips.

Fried eggplant with marinara for dipping is a nearly-ubiquitous dish in neighborhood New Orleans restaurants and even upscale Italian New Orleans restaurants. I never saw the appeal, feeling that there was too much chewy eggplant inside a usually too-dark coating.

The DiMartino’s version is a game-changer. No one comes close to the lightness achieved here. The flavor of eggplant does indeed come through, and the blend of the coating with the vegetable, Parmesan cheese, and marinara is IT - the pinnacle.

We really do need to listen to Peter DiMartino and try other things on the menu. He was confident we would love them too. I have no doubt. We could start with fried seafood, which I imagine to be spectacular considering the deft frying hand displayed with these other two fantastically fried vegetables. We simply must spread out into the menu. Who knows what we could be missing? If only we would stop filling up on these irresistible, always-perfect specimens of fried goodness.