Mucci’s is a new kind of Italian restaurant. It goes heavy on red sauce dishes, but not quite Goodfellas-level. It diverges from what Minnesotans expect from “Italian,” but not crudo divergence (rip that trend). In short, the food is delicious, familiar yet still surprising, and it’s all scratch made. So how does an important, well-respected TC food critic write about such a restaurant? No idea.
But how does a hack with a blog and a savings account write it? Compare each dish to a mashup. Obviously.
Brussels Sprouts – “Crocodile Chop”
We started the meal with some lightly fried Bsprouts. They came with a Mucci’s original, la bomba, which our server described as “Italian kimchi,” and tonnato, which is apparently “tuna aoili.” To those less enamored with Bsprouts, this might not sound like a winning combination–just like a mashup of Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” and System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” would, at first blush, not sound pleasing to the ears. But it works! The tonnato was tangy and kinda funky — much like the bouncy Farfisa organ on Sir Elton’s reptilian 1973 #1 single. The sharp, contrasting crunch of the la bomba, like Serj Tankian randomly screaming “WAKE UP,” was a pleasant surprise despite knowing it was coming. With such strong accompaniments, the sprouts themselves didn’t need to be fancy–and they weren’t. They were simply fried to perfection.
Gnocchi – Stayin’ Alive in the Wall
Look how big those gnocco are! Slightly crispy on the outside, ethereal on the inside, each bite was soft and decadent. Come for the obvious flavor profile (brown butter, thyme and mushroom), stay for the melt-in-your-mouth pasta pillows. Like the gnocchi, Stayin’ Alive in the Wall tastes exactly how you’d expect. But that’s not why you should listen/watch. Somewhere between John Travolta’s sexy dance moves and those weird chanting British zombie kids, you start to think maybe this is an actual song. Maybe Roger Waters is a secret Gibb brother. This thing simply works. Something about those dulcet sound pillows transports you back to 1979 — a simpler time — when a man kept his word and food actually came from the land. Or whatever.
Fiona Pizza – Cooking By the Book ft. Lil Jon (NSFW)
The Fiona (creme fraiche, mozzarella, green apple, pancetta, arugula) looked beautiful and enticing. But when we took that first bite: S-A-L-T. HEYO! The sweet elements, presumably meant to cut the salt, didn’t quite cut enough. We still enjoyed it, but the salt could not be ignored.
Its counterpart pairs a sweet song from Nick Jr. cut by Lil Jon’s sailor-salty lyrics, from his feature on Snoop Dogg’s thoughtful exploration of the bubbling temptations of toxic masculinity: “Step Yo Game Up.” Stephanie from LazyTown just wants the kids to know that if they only follow the recipe they’ll have a wonderful cake! Apples and mozzarella? Sounds like a delightful party! And what’s this? Balloon animal expert Lil Jon (his Yelp reviews are tremendous) is here! You have a message for the kids, LJ? “Rub that shit it’s yours, bitch,” and “Grab his dick it’s yours, bitch.” Actually, never mind kids. Gnocchi? Roger Waters Gibb is serving cotton candy…
Camilla Pizza – DMX vs. Ghostbusters (NSFW)
This pizza should singlehandedly bring you to Mucci’s. None of the saltiness from the Fiona was present, giving us a chance to truly appreciate Mucci’s crust. I’m somewhat of an expert on pizza crusts (I wrote an essay on them in college, nbd), and this ranks with the best of them. It’s flash fried before it’s topped, making it crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Honestly, they could’ve just served the crust and I would’ve asked for more. Instead, they decided to top it with fried chicken and peppadew chilies. Yes, fried chicken on a pizza. I mean, it’s 2017; it’s time. Combined with the peppadews and drops of agrodolce, it was a flavor and texture explosion. Everybody should eat this pizza, just like everybody should listen to this mashup. Don’t be embarrassed if you cry — the Sistine Chapel is meant to overwhelm you.
Baked Canneloni – The Fresh Star of Bel-Air
This dish was good, if surprisingly one-note. With short rib, red pepper fonduta, and ricotta, I was expecting heaven. Everything was cooked perfectly, there was just… something missing. It tasted like an elevated dish for the buttered noodles crowd. Obviously nothing wrong with buttered noodles, but this was a good dish in a meal of great ones. It needed more spice, or brightness, or something. It’s the “Fresh Star of Bel Air” of mashups. I can’t say it’s bad, but it’s a knife at a gun fight. A Honda at a Porsche fight. A pawn at a queen fight. An adverb at a metaphor fight… OK, I’ll stop.
Lasagne Mucci – “Home” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony ft. Phil Collins
The menu just says: “Layers of love.” The lasagna was stacked to the ceiling, and layered with so much flavor and texture that it almost even beats Simek’s: The Lasagna of My Childhood™. It’s that good.
“Home” is not a mashup, but it also has layers. Like: why is Phil Collins singing the hook on a Bone Thugs song? Were the Bones like, “You know who would be great on this track? That Sussudio guy.” Did Collins rerecord the original, or just show up for the music video? Because he’s undeniably in this video looking undeniably uncomfortable every time one of the Bones put their arms around him. Also, what’s up with those dice kids? And why is this song so freaking good?! What’s the secret? It’s just noodles, red sauce, meat, and cheese! I mean, come on!
Spaghetti – Hollaback Seinfeld
There’s no better song for the spaghetti than “Hollaback Seinfeld.” It’s fun, funky, satisfying, and all around — oh, who am I kidding… Again, this isn’t technically a mashup, but there is a definitively correct song choice here and look — if you had mom’s spaghetti, would you capture it?
The spaghetti was a Top 4 dish on the night, which sounds like faint praise, but metaphor fight, remember? The noodles were thick and chewy, and grabbed the sauce tight. The meatballs were straight classic: meaty, tender, with a small yet noticeable hint of fennel to tie it all together. Everyone knows how to put red sauce on noodles, so a restaurant that does traditional spaghetti needs to do it perfectly. It needs to be better than mom’s spaghetti. Better than nostalgia. And, well… the whole crowd goes spaghetti.
(Interlude) Our Drinks: Barbera D’Asti and Mucci’s Juice – Under the Booty (NSFW)
The Barbera D’Asti was a 2015 vintage from Villa Della Rosa and, typical of Barbera varietals, was rich and full-bodied. The nose was mild — slightly peppery and fruity. On the tongue, it hit notes of strawberry and other dark red friuts, with low tannins and high acidity — a great pairing to many of the dishes we ate. We also got Mucci’s Juice: red wine and Orange Fanta. Awww SHIT YEAH! There were no “tannins” or “dark fruits” in this bad boy! Pure drugstore sangria-level concoction. I mean, it sounds weird, but when you think about it, how could it be bad? Under the Booty combines sangria-on-the-beach melody from “Under the Sea” with Bubba Sparxxx and the Ying Yang Twins’ classic lyrics, “Booty, booty, booty, booty, rockin’ everywhere.” Weird, right? But think about it… how could it be bad? Spoiler: it’s amazing.
Tiramisu – Party and Bullshit in the USA (NSFW)
Time for dessert! Soft, creamy, fluffy, a hint of coffee; everything, including the ladyfingers, made in-house. It was a tiramisu party and we were all nodding our heads like, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah…” (actual quote). I mean just look at it:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato – Uptown Puffs
Eat ’em up, eat ’em up! Peanut butter chocolate flavor. A scoop of this was the perfect capper to an amazing meal — just like this mashup by the man, the legend, ashcoolbro, is a perfect finish to an amazing review.
Verdict: the Camilla alone is worth the trip, but don’t skimp on the pastas either. 10/10 would eat again.