Rocky and Carlo’s | Italian Cajun Fare & Gumbo At Their Best

Review by: Michael Stern

The Gastronomic Trinity of South Louisiana

Rocky and Carlo’s food embodies the unique trinity of south Louisiana cooking: Italian, Cajun, and Dixie.

A Locals’ Favorite

You don’t hear much about this restaurant when people talk about area must-eats. Its location out in St. Bernard Parrish east of the city discourages a tourist trade. It lacks decor designed to charm newcomers. But locals know it as a culinary gem. A spacious eating hall that opened in 1965, it has survived hurricanes, floods, and a devastating fire in 2012.

Service is cafeteria-style. Walk along the line and select from an Italian Cajun hot-lunch menu that reflects the region’s culinary diversity. You’ll find pork chops with greens, braciola, veal parm, stuffed peppers, muffulettas, fried shrimp or oysters, and gorgeous baked chicken.

Best Gumbo Anywhere?

Okra thickens Rocky and Carlo’s seafood gumbo. Its magnificent lode of shrimp, crab, and crawfish makes it possibly the best gumbo in or out of New Orleans. The blackboard menu also lists what locals know as wop salad. That’s the politically incorrect term for garlicky iceberg lettuce with green olives. Many customers come for piled-high roast beef po boys. Heaps of wispy, deep-fried onions go with everything. They adorn almost every table.

Amazing Mac & Cheese

No matter what you eat at Rocky and Carlo’s, one dish will stick in your memory. The menu lists it inconspicuously as “macaroni.” It bears little resemblance to typical mac & cheese made with elbow noodles. They build this mountain of pasta from substantial perciatelli tubes. Orange cheese is plastered throughout. Just forking into it will make a mac & cheese lover smile. You find tender gobs from the heart, chewy strips from the top, and crisp webbed bark from the casserole’s edge. Some people get it topped with sweet red marinara sauce or glistening mahogany brown gravy. Each gives the dish a very different personality. I love it sauceless: a Platonic ideal of mac & cheese.

What To Eat

Macaroni and Cheese

Po Boy

Italian Salad

Onion Rings

Seafood Gumbo


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