You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled to spot Mosca’s Restaurant in Avondale, La.; it’s an unassuming building, set off of an empty stretch of Highway 90 in an oyster-shell parking lot, surrounded by trees and not much else. Blink and you could miss it.
Since 1946, though, diners have made a point of crossing the Mississippi in droves to seek out Mosca’s. In 2010, the New Yorker’s Calvin Trillin lavished several thousand words on the spot, which has barely changed since founder Provino Mosca opened its doors over 60 years ago.
Approaching at night, Mosca’s emerges from the dark like an oasis in the tiny puddle of light from an ancient sign atop the whitewashed little house.
The dining room is dimly lit, unadorned and cozy as a family home, and odds are good that an aproned Mary Jo Mosca will greet you herself before her staff heaps your table with huge, family-style platters, just like an Italian grandmother.
And what platters they are. At Mosca’s, the tradition of New Orleans Italian dining is at its best, as seen in dishes like the legendary Oysters Mosca or the roast sausages still handmade in-house.
The menu is brief, inexpensive (the most expensive dish is under $30) and most importantly, served family-style.
Bring as big a group as you can; you won’t want to miss a dish like the chicken a la grande, redolent of rosemary and whole garlic, the rich red “gravy” sauce over meatballs, or the chance to worship at the temple of butter and garlic that is the spaghetti Bordelaise.
Also bring a few dollars for the jukebox, packed with vintage swing from New Orleans’ favorite Italian son, Louis Prima.
The Details: Mosca’s is cash-only. It’s only open for dinner and closes on Sundays and Mondays. There’s a full bar, though the wine list is short; the corkage fee to bring your own bottle is $20.