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Dec 22, 2007 04:19 PM

Garlic Bread...To Die For!

Several decades ago there was a restaurant in Baltimore's Little Italy called Maria's 300. One of their claims to fame is that Al Capone was a regular there when he was in town from Chicago. Supposedly, one of the reasons that he visited Maria's was her garlic bread. Legend has it that her's was better than any he could find in Chicago.

On my first visit to Maria's in the early '70's I had her garlic bread and, Al was right!!! She made the most incredible garlic bread that I had ever had. I learned that the waittresses were actually the ones who made the garlic bread for their customers-not the kitchen. I became a regular at Maria's and tipped well. Over time I learned their recipe for garlic bread and began to make it for myself. Over the weeks and months I travelled to Baltimore less frequently, entertaining more in my apartment forty miles away.

Her garlic bread, though, remains a "specialty" of mine to this day. It is the best that I have ever had. Many people on this board have also had it. This is the recipe:

Two loaves of seeded Italian bread
3/4 pound of unsalted Irish butter (or unsalted Vermont butter)
one head of garlic, minced (yes, a HEAD of garlic, minced. A LARGE head of garlic!)
caraway seed
crushed basil
crushed hot pepper flakes
Reggiano parmigiano

Slice the bread with a bread knife approximately one inch thick
Coat each slice with a heavy layer of the garlic mixed/blended well with the softened butter-there may be a bit more than a tablespoon for each slice; perhaps two tblsp. It is easiest to let the butter soften to room temperature for an hour or so before blending it with the garlic.
Grate fresh Reggiano over each slice; coat the slices with the Reggiano for a full layer of cheese on each.
Sprinkle caraway seeds over this
Sprinkle crushed basil over this
Sprinkle a few hot pepper flakes over this

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately ten minutes until the bread is crusty and the interior of the slices are soft from the melted garlic butter. Serve HOT.

Toast Al with each bite...

And, I should note that Maria's 300, a long time Baltimore Little Italy tradition is now long gone. Still, this was a recipe that stands the test of time and I thank her...and Al for it.

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  1. Thank you for sharing! I will have to try this at my next Italian dinner.

    1. Nice. Caraway seeds... interesting.

      7 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato

        The real thing is the head of garic and the 3/4 pounds of unsalted butter. Nobody takes the time to make this anymore. But it IS the "foundation" for the best garlic bread you will ever taste. In truth, it IS how garlic bread was made for a century or more when people weren't looking for shortcuts. Add Reggiano, some herbs and a touch of caraway and hot pepper flakes and you have something really special.

        1. re: lynnlato

          I think caraway seeds and cilantro may have something in common, you either love 'em or hate 'em.

          I love 'em both...............the seeds should impart a fun twist, wonder if one should toast them then put in coffee grinder to make smaller? < just curious, I'll try your way of course JH

          1. re: iL Divo

            You might be confusing caraway with coriander. I can't imagine anyone not liking caraway. Where would my favorite rye breads be without caraway seeds (actually fruit)?

            1. re: c oliver

              ...there's no confusion with caraway and coriander.

              1. re: iL Divo

                Since you were comparing caraway to cilantro, I made that point since coriander and cilantro are related. No other point.

              2. re: c oliver

                I don't like caraway seeds. I'll put up with them on certain things, but I prefer to do without. I would leave it off the garlic bread.

                1. re: Disneyfreak

                  I know several who don't like caraway seeds, my son, my husband my BFF in high school. it's one of those ingredients. glad you make your decision according to the things you know you like as opposed to adding something just because it's in a recipe.

          2. Joe - do you leave each slice connected at the bottom and bake it as one loaf, or lay the slices out flat on, say, a cookie sheet?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sharuf

              Lay the slices out flat on a baking sheet.

            2. I, too, want to express my Thank You for the really nice post! Enjoyed reading it, and appreciate your sharing the recipe with us. We just love garlic bread with a meal and your recipe gives us a fresh, new way of making it.

              1. Sounds great. Similar to my recipe, though I have never added caraway seeds. WIll try next time. I usually add some evoo to the butter, garlic compound. Garlix bread is our go to recipe for stale rolls or loaves of bread.

                1 Reply
                1. re: macca

                  Joe, thanks for the recipe. It sounds like Manero's of Greenwich's garlic bread, slathered in butter and quite addictive. This was before everyone became 'health conscious',