Mary Ann Fitzmorris September 06, 2019 05:45 Dining Diary
Giorlando’s has been quietly sitting on the corner of Veterans Blvd and Bonnabel for as long as I can remember, at least forty years. They don’t make a big fuss about anything. The building is boring, the sign plain. There is absolutely nothing to incentivize someone passing to stop in. Except the parking lot is always full. What is going on here?
This is most definitely a neighborhood place. We now qualify as neighbors. Here is our neighborhood restaurant. (We are renovating a house nearby.) Finally, we had to see what the place is like inside. Extremely ordinary, just like the outside of the building. Clean, Well kept up. Nice woodwork. Nice people. All the neighbors have been coming here for years. And now we know why.
The food is just delicious. Period. The first time there I noticed fresh-cut fries, not something I would expect in a place like this. But why not? Forty years ago, it wasn’t too much trouble to cut your own potatoes. On another visit I had daube and spaghetti. How New Orleans can you get? We also had a muffuletta. Not the best I’ve ever had, but right up there.
Tom has been enamored of the roast beef poor boy here since he first tried it. It’s the kind of place you’d expect to have a great roast beef poor boy. But on the last visit we finally understood why the parking lot here is always full, but no one ever talks about it.
We started off with brioche bread covered with shrimp, artichoke, and spinach, smothered in cheeses. Too easy. This had to be delicious. But it was even better than that. It came like a pinwheel on a plate and looked like a pile of stuff, but you couldn’t stop eating this. We got a side of Fettuccini Alfredo, which was the least good thing we’ve had here, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. The lasagna is an enormous brick in a baking dish, A puddle of red sauce is underneath the brick, which is so loaded with ricotta cheese it oozes out whenever a fork touches it. We also had a stuffed crab, because if ever there would be one like you had before this local dish got boring, this would be it. There was definitely more crab in this one than usual, but it was not crusty on top like a broiler would crust it. In the silver shell as expected, it was a little disappointing, but still better than most others out there. This came with a pile of their fresh-cut fries and two enormous onion rings good enough to make me consider readjusting my rule that all onion rings must be thin. These were thick, and crusted with a crunchy batter.
I had considered getting the brisket and mashed potatoes Thursday special, but opted for the stuffed crab. Right after I ordered, a. enormous pile of chunky braised brisket and debris in a rich gravy went by, leaving a trail of steamy smoke in its wake. This was $13.75, so a scoop of cafeteria-style mashed potatoes and what looked like canned peas alongside it can be excused. And canned peas are what you might expect at a place like this, which is cooking food your mom made. I asked our cute little waitress, a family member, about that brisket. She said she has never clocked out when there has been brisket left. It always runs out about 4, but you can call in and ask them to save some for you. Evidently the Thursday special is another Giorlando’s secret. The owner, John, came to the table to visit and when I mentioned it, he came back with some of the last shreds from the pot. It is as good as it looked. The kind of comfort food that envelops your soul.
We did not get a dessert, but I’m confident that would have to be good too. Everything here is made the old-fashioned way, and by that we mean a heaping cup of love goes into every pot.
The dining room is filled with generational pictures of this family. Giorlando’s is like walking into the home of a beloved family member, with something divine simmering on the stove. It is Metairie’s really delicious little secret.
741 Bonnabel Blvd Metairie
HOMEMADE BEER-BATTERED ONION RINGS
My thinking about onion rings is that the thinner they are, the better they are. To make that work, the coating must also be thin. Since flour won't stick to the rings all by itself, I use a wash made of eggs and beer over the first coating, and then come back with a heavier second flour coating. The hardest part is slicing the onions. A mechanical slicer works best. We use a Ron Popeil product from the early 1970s called the Kitchen Magician, inherited by my wife from her mother.
One medium yellow onion
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
2T creole seasoning
salt to taste
1 quart canola oil
Heat oil to 375.
Mix all the wet ingredients.
Mix the dry ingredients, adding less or more seasoning as you wish. When ours is done there is definitely a noticeable amount in the flour. Then spoon half of this mixture into a bag to keep the mess down. You will keep adding this as needed when it goes down.
Slice onion to desired thickness.
Dredge a handful of rings through the wash. Put them in the bag and coat. Do a second pass-through if you like a super crunch, but one pass is fine.
Drop a test into the oil. It should float to the top immediately. Remove that one and add a handful at a time. Drain on lots of paper towels, maybe even with newspapers under the towel, depending on your tolerance for mess. Salt immediately.
Repeat this process over and over, taking note of smoking oil. Sometimes it is necessary to let the oil cool down a bit. NEVER walk away from this.