Pasta By The Pile

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris July 16, 2020 12:00 in Dining Diary

On Mac’n’Cheese day we left the show with that on our minds. Well, my mind. Spoiler alert: there is a surprise to this story.

If one is in New Orleans, and one is thinking of mac’n’cheese, one is likely to be thinking of Rocky and Carlos. Except that we are on the north shore, so we went to DiChristina’s. They are family to the Rocky and Carlos people. And they do a lot of the same things in the same style, and the same portions.

We were happy to see them busy. And very sad to see our favorite waitress, (maybe of all time) Barb, missing. She passed away since our last visit. Maria, who works the front of the house as her husband works the kitchen, came to visit. She is sweet and accommodating. It was nice to visit with her, and delighted they are doing well in these crazy times.

The stuffed artichoke here only turns up as a special, and it is that huge, takes-up-a-whole-plate-fanned-out style. With oily bread crumbs so filled the heaviness pushes it all down into a fan. It is cheesy, garlicky, and loaded with everything. For fans of this very Sicilian New Orleans dish, it’s a winner.

It was Mac’n’Cheese day, and there was mac’n’cheese all around. Even Tom succumbed to the lure. The mac’n’cheese here is oh-so-pedestrian, and oh-so-good. Here are large pans of bucatini pasta coated with a pile of basic yellow cheddar cheese, the requisite butter and cream definitely present. It comes to the table in a massive portion.

Tonight it was the side for the fried oysters, its own massive pile of hot and crispy cornmeal deliciousness. A very large portion of very large oysters.

And it was the side for the Chicken Parm, which was good, if not slightly confusing. It was all so coated in sauce that it was difficult to tell where the breading was, what was cheese, and what was chicken. But it all worked together to present what one thinks of when thinking of Chicken Parm. A pile of red sauce and cheese and chicken comfort food. The sauce was right on that border of savory and quite sweet.

There was no room for dessert, which was too bad. Most of the dessert here are homemade here. But we had to wonder who can eat all this food and then eat dessert.

DiChristina’s is a very basic, old-fashioned-no-frills Sicilian-Italian eatery. Nice people, nice waitresses, large portions. Not really our niche, but sometimes it works just fine. On this day celebrating mac’n’cheese, it was the perfect place.

Last night we attempted to go to the new Megumi, which was not open when we arrived. Somehow, a steak and fries called to me, so we stopped at Acquistapace’s and got two filet mignons and some russet potatoes.

Talk on the show of Creole tomatoes made us crave a tomato salad. We built a steak dinner around that.

Out came our faithful friend, the Kitchen Magician. I had peanut oil on hand from the Greg Piccolo recommendation a while back on the show.

I put some butter in a cast iron skillet and added Worcestershire Sauce, and some roasted garlic pods, then quartered some baby Bellas and added those to the pan. I salted and peppered the outside of the steaks, searing them, and they went into the oven to broil.

I took broccoli and steamed it, cut the Creoles and purple onion into slices, layering them. I dropped the basil on top along with some garlic pods I roasted yesterday. In a little ramekin I mixed ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup red wine vinegar and the juice of ½ lemon. To this I added Italian seasoning and drizzled it over the salad.

The fries were cut with the Kitchen Magician into bistro fries and set into ice cold water. They were blotted dry and added to the hot oil. Batch after batch was fried and drained and salted.

When the steaks were done I removed them and added cream to the pan and a lot of coarsely ground peppercorns. This became a great creamy mushroom/peppercorn sauce.

It was a nice fine meal at home, something we’ve been doing much less of since dining out has become available again. Perhaps we’ll get back to it-once those DiChristina’s leftovers are cleared out, of course.