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Rolled Oysters? Louisville's Cuisine

Updated on February 25, 2013
Rolled Oysters
Rolled Oysters | Source
Rolled Oyster interior
Rolled Oyster interior | Source

Have you ever heard of a Rolled Oyster? If you haven’t lived in Louisville, Kentucky, or have had friends who lived there, you probably haven’t heard of this wonderful take on an oyster.

What is a Rolled Oyster? It is basically an oyster –usually between 1 and 3 oysters actually that are rolled in a special recipe dough and fried until they are dark brown. These are not to be confused with the pan fried breaded oysters which are good, but not the same.

In fact, they used to be a free food offered to men who wanted to come to Mazzoni's bar for whiskey. Later, during Prohibition, the Mazzoni family opened a restaurant, and rolled oysters were one of the most popular items on the menu. They were usually served with cocktail sauce and oyster crackers. The batter is so dense and flavorful that even people who didn’t want the oyster would eat the fried batter.

Unfortunately, Mazzoni’s went out of business, but when old friends gather to talk about the good old days, you can bet someone is going to bring up Mazzoni’s.

There are still several restaurants that offer fried oysters, but none seem to match the wonderful taste of the Mazzoni’s oyster.

One restaurant that comes close is, “The Home Run” which is basically a burger business that offers rolled oysters occasionally on a limited basis. They are said to have received tips from the original oyster cooks who made rolled oysters for the Mazzoni family.

There are recipes, if you are willing to try one, but without tasting the original it might be difficult to judge the outcome. If you do come to Louisville, ask a friend if they have had a rolled oyster. Anyone 30 or under may not know what you are talking about, but go to “King Fish” or a few of the other long time fish restaurants in Louisville and see if you can taste a real classic.

Recently I have learned that the local Kroger grocery store is offering premade Oysters ready to be deep fried. This is also a limited time offer also. I believe if a local grocery store is offering this dish in Louisville, it only emphasizes the popularity of the dish.

I keep my fingers crossed that the price of oysters will go down and more fish restaurants will give it a try.


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      Mary 13 months ago

      In the late 70's, I got a job in the St. Matthews area of Louisville. I worked as a medical assistant for a local doctor. It was lunch time for me, so I went to Mazzoni's for the first time to try these "so called" famous oysters. I was amazed with the (mouth-watering), smell of the food and the atmosphere, when I walked in. It was like stepping back in time to the 40's, with all the décor and the big bar stretching half-way across the restaurant! People were swarming around the bar and eating this meal! I loved it!! It was a memorable experience! I'm living in Ga. now, but I will always remember, Mazzoni's!!

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      Jan Scott 17 months ago

      My Granddaddy took me to Mazzoni every time we were out together. Loved the rolled oysters! I always thought of that as a very special memory.