500BestSquareSoft-Shell Crab With Tomato-Garlic Sauce @ Vincent’s

“This is the dish that convinced me I could cook as well as any of those idiot chefs that used to scream at me when I was a waiter,” says Vincent Catalanotto. The idea is simple: it’s a fried soft-shell crab (nice and big, greaseless) that he tosses around for a few seconds with a combination of his tomato sauce and garlic butter. It also has a little spice to it. It creates as original and tasty a version of soft-shells as you’re likely to find. It’s not on the menu anymore, but Vincent says that you need only ask for it (during soft-shell crab season–the warmer months) and they’ll make it. One more miracle about this dish: it leaps over the usual aversion I have to seafood with tomato sauces. When those are good at all, they’re outrageously good, and this is that.

Vincent’s. Riverbend: 7839 St. Charles Ave.. 504-866-9313.

||Metairie: 4411 Chastant St. 885-2984.This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

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