Rocky and Carlo’s Restaurant

I was over in Chalmette to see a Pride month showing of To A More Perfect Union and we decided to go old school for dinner.

In 1965, Tommy Tommaseo, his brother Rocky and his brothers-in-law Carlo, Mario and Giuseppe “Joseph” Gioe opened Rocky and Carlo’s over in St Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans. They wanted everyone to know their new place was a restaurant, not a bar and that men and women were welcome so they put ‘Ladies Invited’ on the signs and it remains on the front windows and cups to this day.

We walked to the back to place our order at the counter from a large menu of classic Italian and New Orleans dishes. I had heard good things about their baked mac and cheese, so that was definitely what I wanted but I asked the person taking the order for a recommendation and she said go for the veal parm.

I’m glad I did. I received a heaping portion of baked macaroni and cheese topped with veal parmesan and a thick marinara, along with a basket of bread.

Very yummy. And the one piece of veal parm I didn’t eat then went really well in a sandwich for lunch the next day.

Charlotte ordered a hearty bowl red beans and rice and that thing was huge. It did need some hot sauce but the flavors were good and deep.

Very happy with our visit. We received generous portions and fast, friendly service. It was reasonably priced, too! Definitely consider a trip to Rocky and Carlo’s next time you’re in Da Parish.

Rocky and Carlo’s Restaurant
613 W. St. Bernard Hwy.
ChalmetteLA 70043
504-279-8323
Hours of Operation:
Open Tues – Thur 11:00am – 8:00pm & Fri – Sat 11:00am – 8:30pm
Closed Sunday & Monday
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Undertow

For Mother’s Day, my sister and brother-in-law took us to the Undertow in Orange Beach, Alabama for their $10 all you can eat Crawfish and Royal Red buffet. Sure, there were also potatoes, corn and sausage but we were there for the seafood.

Royal Reds are a variety of shrimp that live the deeper waters off the Alabama Gulf Coast and are large and sweet. The meat is comparable to lobster and that’s why we had ours with drawn butter.

The Undertow is a casual, local hangout and the staff are friendly, even as they worked their tails off keeping up with refilling the buffet and slinging drinks. They run the buffet on weekends during the shrimping season but get there early – it runs from 2pm to 7pm or until they run out! Smoking is allowed at the bar and there is outside seating as well.

The Undertow
25025 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Alabama

Revisiting Oceana Grill

After Latoya Cantrell’s historic inauguration ceremony, my friends Lisa and Vincenzo and I followed Madam Mayor’s second line out of the Mahalia Jackson theater into Armstrong Park.

Madam Mayor in the light blue dress and white umbrella, stage left

Afterwards, we went seeking sustanence. It was Monday and our first two options weren’t open. We went with number three – Oceana Grill on Conti @ Bourbon. The last time I was here was 8 years ago and it stands the test of time as a casual dining establishment. It was as filled with local workers as tourists and we were served quickly with large portions of good food.

I went with the fried shrimp platter. Lots of them on the plate, plus hushpuppies and french fries. Nice bite to the jalapeno hush puppies and a nice fry on everything else.

Lisa had the Black and Bleu burger with blackening seasoning and blue cheese. Nice and beefy burger with a tangy sauce.

Vincenzo had the seafood platter, pilled high with oysters, catfish, shrimp. Lovely cornmeal batter on the thin and crispy catfish.

The server was friendly and quick with refills. For French Quarter dining, the prices are reasonable. I’d definitely stop by here again.

Charlie’s Steakhouse

For my birthday dinner, my folks came into town and we went to Charlie’s Steakhouse. Located on Dryades in Uptown, it is only open for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. This is an old school steakhouse with no menus because there not much else on the menu but steak and sides. Exactly what I was looking for in a birthday dinner.

We started with onion rings. Thinly cut and deep fried, they were quite delicious. We all ate more than we should have based on how big the steaks were going to be.

Dad had half a wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing. He used some of the left over onion rings as a crouton.

We all went for 14 ounce ribeyes. Simply prepared with just salt and pepper, they came to the table still sizzling. All were cooked perfectly to order (from blue to rare to medium rare to medium) and were very succulent.

The sides were choose potatoes au gratin and sauteed button mushrooms. The potatoes were a little over salted but quite good with hunks of potato and lots and lots of cheddar cheese. They paired well with the lightly salted steak. The mushrooms and onions went very well with the steaks with their buttery flavor.

As it was my birthday, they brought out spumoni, a very rich ice cream. And, yes, I did share.

We finished every last  bite of dessert (although, we each had some steak left over for sandwiches the next day – and the day after that).

The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. The server was polite and very attentive. Everyone we came in contact with was friendly and personable. We even got a history lesson from the manager/owner about the original family, the restaurants they opened and were related to– so basically a success story of immigration to America. Oh, and a couple fun ones about bootlegging during Prohibition.

I would definitely recommend Charlie’s steaks. I know I’m not going to wait for another major milestone to go back again.

Main Street Cafe – Collins, MS

If you’re ever near Collins, Mississippi at lunchtime consider stopping in at the Main Street Café. It is smack dab between I-49 and US-84 on Main Street (Highway 184) in Collins. They have an all you can eat buffet for $10 that includes your drink, and a wide selection of down home, Southern classics (a mess of peas, a pot of beans, fried okra, greens, gumbo, cornbread, a large variety of desserts and a salad bar). For the meat selection, they offer ribs, chicken and sometimes catfish. You need to get there by 2pm, though, as they are only open from 9:30am to 2pm on weekdays.

As you can see from my plate, I didn’t waste much stomach space on veggies. Their fried chicken is excellent. Very tasty and juicy, with crisp skin and a good seasoning. I got my money’s worth on fried chicken alone!

The tea is fresh, the servers are friendly and the food is quite good. I definitely recommend it.

Shady Acres – Seminary, Mississippi

As you travel on US Highway 49 between Hattiesburg and Seminary, there is a farm stand/restaurant over three buildings and a fenced in outside area called Shady Acres Village.

While the outside area has plants, metal chicken sculptures and other yard art, the inside is a tight packed general store with local seasonal produce, a bakery with pies and cakes and an entire wall of jams and jellies. Attached is also a restaurant with hot plates (ribs, chicken, fried fish, etc) and darn tasty hamburgers.

While everything looks good, we usually get the burgers. They are nice and thick with pickles, tomatoes and lettuce on a soft bun. One of us gets one with a side of onion rings:

And, the other with fries and we share our sides. The drinks are refillable.

There is plenty of seating including an outside seating area that is covered (and has fans), so we usually stop there when we are traveling with the dog, as she is welcome there.

The staff are all super friendly and the bathrooms are clean. It is a great place to stop when you’re road tripping along US 49.

Gracious To Go

If you’re looking for good desserts (as well as other bakery items), Gracious bakery is the place to go. In fact, if I’m out and about in the morning around Earhart Blvd, I try to stop in a Gracious to Go. They are only open until 11am during the week here but, you are in and out fast, with fresh goodies to go.

Today, Michelle and I picket up a selection. We loved the deep, rich flavor of Valrhona chocolate in the chocolate croissant and chocolate pecan hand pie. The croissant was large, flakey and buttery and the hand pie almost had a cookie crust to go with the decadent interior.

We also some savory items, including a seasonal tart with sweet potato, Brussel sprouts and gruyere cheese and a spinach and goat cheese croissant.

The folks are super friendly and ready to make recommendations as well as encourage indulgences. Prices are reasonable and everything is fresh and creatively made. Try their two other locations for sandwiches and other items (one in Mid-city on Jeff Davis Pkwy and the other in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue).