A Sicilian Recipe, A New Orleans Tradition

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris May 22, 2020 12:00 in Dining Diary

Finally, we got to taste the famous Tony Mandina’s Red Gravy sold all over town. We’ve been looking for it but there is always just a space where it should be and a name marking the space. Never being able to find it only sweetened the desire. Yesterday we picked up a few things from Tony Mandina’s, and the Red Gravy was part of it. I understand why it is so popular. A thick and slightly sweet Sicilian tomato sauce, it has that simmered-all-day quality to it. We love fresh tomato sauce with chunky spices to it, but those are not as comforting as a sauce like this. And comfort is what we all need now. We will fire that up again in a day or two and comfort ourselves again.

That wasn’t all we picked up. On the radio show we have been advertising for them and the 2 for 1 meatballs and spaghetti special has piqued my interest. Tom calls meatballs and spaghetti kid food, so we got him some fried catfish and white beans.This is another inseparable combo like meatballs and spaghetti to Tom, and he is thrilled with any pairing of these two. Here were thin strips of fried catfish and a New Orleans-style white bean preparation. There were generous pieces of sausage in the white beans, and these little navy beans are like-your-mama-made delicious. 

The Red Gravy red sauce was served with two meatballs and angel hair pasta. I love meatballs, but am very particular about them. Call me a meatball connoisseur, oxymoronic as that is. The pinnacle of meatball excellence is at Marcello. It is light and crumbly, which is a desirable characteristic to me. 

Vincent’s has another great meatball. These are much larger and made of pork as well. Tony Mandina’s is a much more traditional meatball. Made of beef and more dense, it is a good meatball. I don’t like hard meatballs, and this one cleared that bar. Fork-tender, it has a good meatball flavor, and combined with the sauce this is an excellent example of a traditional New Orleans plate of meatballs and spaghetti.

When our daughter made the pick-up, Kolette, the delightful owner,  showed her around the newly-renovated dining room. We think of this as a cozy and welcoming place, but now it is glamorous, and they’ve opened up their private dining rooms to make more space for service. 

And Tom will be excited to return and eat. The piano is still there.