The parking lot is a gravel wreck; the outside is dark and nefarious; in fact, one evening when Stephen Rushmore and I stopped in for dinner, a nearby customer informed us that Mosca’s for many years was the hang-out of the region’s chief Mafioso. If it’s your first time, I guarantee you will think you are lost when you make the drive. And even when you find it, you will wonder: can this two-room joint with the blaring juke box and semi-secret kitchen dining area really be the most famous Italian roadhouse in America? Inside, conviviality reigns; I saw only friendly sorts of folks eating; no one looked like a cast member of The Godfather or The Sopranos.
Aside from the setting and location, the primary thing you’ll notice upon arriving at Mosca’s is the aroma. Garlic reigns. There are whole cloves of it in the painfully tender chicken a la Grande, which is a cluster of wine-sautéed pieces that arrive in a pool of rosemary-perfumed gravy. Oysters Mosca is a veritable festival of garlic, along with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs all cosseting little nuggets of sweet oyster meat. Thank God for spaghetti bordelaise, which is little more than a heap of thin noodles bathed in oil and butter and garlic. It is an ideal medium for rolling up on a fork and pushing around in extra chicken gravy or last of the oysters Mosca breadcrumbs to sop up their goodness.
Go with friends: the bigger the group, the more different dishes you can sample; and you do need also to taste Mosca’s crabmeat salad, Italian sausage, chicken cacciatore, and Louisiana shrimp. Everything is served family style.