Friday, October 27, 2006

Rolled Oysters at Mazzoni's

"A rolled oyster consists of three raw oysters rolled in pastinga (a batter-like mixture) and deep fried. As the outside seals and becomes golden brown, the oysters inside steam and burst. the liquour (juice) from the oysters gives the breading an oyster-like flavor."

The quote above is from the menu of Mazzoni's Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky. Mazzoni's is next door to Air Devil's Inn on Taylorsville Road and one of the places we ate on our recent vacation.

The menu tells the Mazzoni story: The Mazzoni brothers arrived in Louisville from Genoa, Italy in 1884. The home of the original rolled oyster was Phillip Mazzoni's cafe on Third and Market. The Mazzoni restaurant is now in its fifth generation and continues to serve the rolled oyster.

We love oysters. I first became familiar with them on the half shell sometime after college. I attempted to interest gawilli in the prospect of oysters on the half shell with no luck at all. Then we visited New Orleans where she tried the gulf coast variety at the French Market. She was hooked. We also like fried oysters. The fried oyster poor boy is our annual staple for Fat Tuesday, a family cuisine holiday around our house.

When we ventured into Mazzoni's Cafe on our recent vacation we did so with raw oysters on our mind. Mazzoni's did not have them on the half shell but, they did have delicious oyster cocktail consisting of several raw oysters in a glass served with cocktail sauce. Our order caught the attention of another Mazzoni's dinner who swore he would try that on his next visit.

For dinner we both tried the rolled oyster. What a treat! The breading was deep fried with oyster flavor just as the menu describes. The oysters in the middle while steamed were more like raw oysters than the steamed oysters in the shell that you can get at Hooters. A very enjoyable and interesting dish.

If you are ever in Louisville drive out to Taylorsville Road and give Mazzoni's a try. If you like oysters you will find the rolled oyster a very interesting and tasty treat.


Blogger katy said...

have never tasted oysters but rolled oysters i would give them a go they really do sound yummy!

1:23 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

The whole Mazzoni's experience was kind of neat from the massive old bar, complete with brass fittings to the original menu. I admit I'm a hound for oysters, though. Pretty cool that the business is still in the Mazzoni family after all of these years. This was fun. I'm ready to go back!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

believe it or not I've never actually tried oysters. But, I'm sure I will at some point. I've become more adventurous as I've gotten older.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

My dad tricked me into trying an oyster on the half shell one time. It slid down so fast, I didn't even have time to chew it, and it left an aftertaste I can only describe as tin can. Think maybe I should try them again some day?

5:26 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I think that I will pass on the oysters. However, those WW II airplane pictures on the side of the Air Devil's Inn will enchant Daddy D. Heck, he would probably like the oysters too.

6:16 PM  
Blogger daddy d said...

Oysters that are cooked are more likely to been eaten by myself than the raw kind. Your whole trip was so cool. Thanks for sharing.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was also a Mazzoni's restaurant at 41st and Market St that was run by my uncle Bill Mazzoni who was a nephew of one on the original brothers from Genoa. I was named after Philip Mazzoni. That said, the oysters at both original locations were the same and delicious. My grandmother was the head cook at the 41st st location and for years spent a majority of her time rolling the oysters that were given away at the bar with drinks and sold in the restaurant. I grew up eating them and have still not had enough. You gotta try them.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Weasel said...

I can't believe they lost their lease. My grandfather was Charles G. Mazzoni and was born in Geneoa Italy about 1887. My mother was Anna Dorothy Mazzoni. I wonder what the relation to the restaurant was?

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mazzoni's might now be the only restaurant that has the Rolled Oyster but, back when I got my first job at the age of 15 1/2 (45 years ago), I worked at a Drive In Restaurant called Manuses. Not sure of spelling but, it sounds like, Mon-us-sus. Anyway, I started out there as the kitchen helper, washing everything, etc. When the short-order cook, being a drunk, wouldn't show up to work when he was supposed to, I was asked if I'd like to learn to cook there orders. The place was in New Albany, Indiana acroos the Ohio River from Louisville, KY.

They had an older lady that prepared specialties like the rolled oysters that they served. I remember the first time I ever had one. The place was my hang out/stop over place before going home from Junior High. I ordered one and MAN! Was it HOT! Scalded my mouth inside but.....was it ever so delicious! Yum-Yum!

When the lady (God Rest Her Soul) would prepared them, I was stupid to not ask her the recipe but, I'd watch her.

I remember her having an almost full tub (approx: 24 X 18" X 4" deep) with what appeared to be cornmeal and some flour. She'd make indentions into it with her knuckles about 1 1/2" deep every 3 inches in 3 even rolls.

Then she'd take two raw oysters and spoon them into the indention areas she'd made.

Then once she'd filled all of them with the oysters, she'd build up a mound of the cornmeal mixture over the top of each one and then dig her hands in beside each one of them and pick them up and shape them with her hands into a roll similar to the picture in Mazzoni's article on their web site. Her's were smoother in exterior. Like cornbread. I'm sure there was something other than cornmeal and flour in her recipe but all I know is they were heavenly tasting morsels.

Nobody on earth should pass up the opportunity to taste one.

You'll be hooked FOR EVER even if you've never tried a oyster ever in your life.

If any of you go to Mazzoni's....try one. I'm sure you'll love them.

Dan (Transplanted to Bonaire, GA)

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that when the lady would shape the rolled oysters, she'd place them on wax paper in layers and keep them covered in the walk in fridge.

When I would cook them, I would deep fry them until golden brown. NOT brown. Just before that. I learned a lot when I worked at Manuses. We made from scratch fried onion rings and pizza with premade crust. The owner started getting so much pizza orders in his drive up that he asked me to come in one Sunday afternoon to help them out. That's when he learned why he was going through so much toppings and anchovies. LOL! He was shocked and told me to cut them in half because it was too much. Well, maybe so but, I made sure that everyone got their monies worth on pizza's when I made them. LOL!

Maunuses was located on the corner of Charleston Rd and State Street in New Albany.

It's not there any more but, I'll never forget my youth as a Short Order Cook.

Dan (Transplanted in Bonaire, GA)

4:23 PM  
Blogger Tony Palmer said...

My grandmother, Anna Louise Mazzoni Foppiano, was uncle Phil's sister and one of many Mazzoni siblings. I remember going to the cafe on Liberty St. many times as a kid, climbing the staircase in what used to be an old home, and visiting my grandmother and the other ladies, mostly Italian, sitting along side one another rolling the oysters. There were lots metal cans of fresh Chesapeake oysters. It was always hot because of the fryers and noisy because of the exhaust fans, and a cold Pepsi was always refreshing to go along with the oysters.
Tony Palmer
Durango, Colorado

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

November, 2012. I am related to the Mazzoni's, my Aunt Terese was married to one of Philip Mazzoni's sons. My daughter Carmen is named after Aunt Terese's daughter. Sadly both restaurants in Louisville are closed. I believe the one downtown was sold due to city renovations and the one on Taylorsville Rd had a fire and they decided not to re-open. That was the last I had heard a few years ago while I was in Louisville to visit family. I sure miss those delicious rolled oysters.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, I just saw that I evidently have a cousin somewhere in CO named Tony....its a small small world.

Connie Walker Hayse
Cape Coral, Florida
(mothers maiden name...Holzknecht)

12:13 AM  

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