From fried dough to deep-fried cauliflower, here’s a rundown of our dining diaries’ greatest hits over the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.
Doughscuits at Trattoria Mucci
Before you go looking for an online order form, I’m going to have stop you right there with some bad news. You cannot get one of these doughnuts from Trattoria Mucci in Minneapolis. Not now, anyway. These mythic legends of fried and glazed biscuit dough are on pause now that the restaurant is taking a summer vacation.
I was lucky enough to get four of them last Sunday, just under the wire. It was my first delightful bite into one of these hearty squares since January 2019, when I stood outside Mucci’s Italian in St. Paul in -4 degrees for almost 2 hours to buy the weekend-morning-only treats. Mucci’s had discontinued doughnut service soon afterward, devastating fans. But earlier this year, owner Tim Niver quietly brought them back at the Minneapolis location.
“We have missed doing doughnuts, but also we’ve needed their popularity to help with overall sales for Trattoria, to help weather the COVID storm,” Niver said. Adapting them for the pandemic added something pivotal to doughnut service: online ordering. No more early-morning doughscuit lines? Sign me up.
As for that summer break, it’s not lasting long. Trattoria Mucci will be back the weekend of July 11th for food to go — including preordered doughnuts. Online ordering starts Monday on Tock. Don’t delay — they sell out fast. (Sharyn Jackson)
901 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-315-4608. Closed until further notice.
Pancakes at Milda’s Cafe
I had kind of a hard day recently — it was my mom’s birthday, the first since she died. I honored her in a few ways, by watching a musical she loved, seeing the roses at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and, of course, eating her favorite foods.
When I was growing up, my letter carrier dad worked every Saturday. So, that became my day with my mom. Usually, we would start our Saturdays with breakfast at one of the local diners. There were many, many diners, this being New Jersey. Something they all had in common were floppy, dinner plate-sized buttermilk pancakes. Bacon, well-done. And a sticky jug of syrup leaving a ring of goo under it on the laminate tabletop. It was our ‘usual’ and it was what I wanted on my mom’s birthday.
I got it at Milda’s Cafe. I love this north Minneapolis corner diner for its tuna melts, pasties, incredibly quick service, coffee refills, and most of all, pancakes. My favorite lunch there, actually, is any savory dish with a side of 1 pancake, which they will gladly sell you.
I called in an order for takeout, and got three of those enormous pancakes, which fed my family of three. Plus bacon, a handful of ice-cold plastic cubes of butter, and — essential! — the enclosed tub of “breakfast syrup.” It’s not maple, nor is it natural, but on a day where all I wanted was to go back in time, it was just right. (S.J.)
1720 Glenwood Av., Mpls., 612-377-9460. Open for takeout and dining in 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
Double cheeseburger at Stewart’s
Nothing succeeds like excess. Witness the over-the-top splendors of this burger ($14), which gleefully rejects asceticism at every opportunity. The thin, 3-ounce patties are fashioned from a fat-enriched blend of grass-fed chuck and brisket. The soft, golden bun is toasted with prodigious amounts of butter. The onions’ natural sweetness, intensified under low-and-slow cooking, get a further boost from a splash of maple syrup. A mustard-infused aioli contributes a pungent bite, and a generous amount of refrigerator pickles add crunch and a much-needed acidic counterbalance to the glorious pile-on of gooey American cheese. When I find myself craving a cheeseburger, I’m glad that chef/owner Max Thompson’s cozy restaurant — currently operating in takeout mode — is conveniently located in my neighborhood. (Rick Nelson)
128 Cleveland Av. N., St. Paul, 651-645-4128. Open 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday and 4 to 9 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
Cauliflower wings at Trio Plant-Based
Cauliflower’s role as the garden’s ultimate chameleon is readily apparent in this vegan homage to chicken wings ($12). Thanks to the deep fryer’s heat, the texture of bite-sized, well-seasoned cauliflower florets is coaxed from crunchy to meaty. Additional flavor comes via a pair of condiments: a lively Buffalo sauce radiates enough heat to admirably invoke the phrase “sinus clearing,” and its feistiness is tempered by a cool, herb-packed ranch sauce. It’s the kind of well-designed snack that keeps a person reaching for more, which is why Louis Hunter, the restaurant’s CEO and founder, should consider creating an on-a-stick version and immediately start lobbying for a berth at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. Two other notes: A handy sidewalk window makes takeout a snap. And in the How-Great-Is-This? department, the restaurant just made PETA’s list of the nation’s top five vegan soul food restaurants (check out the details here). Congratulations! (R.N.)
610 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-326-1326. Open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Joe’s Brrr Bar at Sebastian Joe’s
On the subject of on-a-stick noshes, I ended a yearslong deprivation and devoured the Dairy Queen delicacy that is the Dilly Bar. After inhaling it, I remembered that Sebastian Joe’s, which has been bringing joy to Twin Cities ice cream lovers for 36 years, improves upon the DQ delicacy in a number of ways. For starters, Joe’s Brrr Bar (great name, right?) calls upon a darker, richer chocolate coating, and then really lays it on thick; there’s an audible snap when the chocolate breaks. The bar’s shape is different: instead of mimicking the flat Dilly disk, Joe’s Brrr Bar borrows the cuplike contours of another DQ classic, the Buster Bar. Then there’s the ice cream. Instead of the Dilly’s vacuous vanilla soft-serve, Sebastian Joe’s packs its decadent, ultra-creamy vanilla ice cream with an over-the-top amount of coarsely chopped Oreos. Truly, heaven on-a-stick ($5.85), particularly during this run of sweltering weather. The only possible improvement would be a Joe’s Brrr Bar made with Pavarotti (named for the late tenor), the scoop case’s dreamy signature blend of a caramel, bananas and chocolate chips. Hey, it never hurts to dream. (R.N.)
4321 Upton Av. S., Mpls., 612-926-7916, open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Also at 1007 Franklin Av. W., Mpls., 612-870-0065, open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.