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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',

                2. I had something like this once at a party and it was somewhat tasty in a massively buttery way but not the sort of thing I'd want to eat on a regular basis, to be honest. There has to be a way to get good flavor without using that much butter.

                  7 Replies
                    1. re: brittle peanut

                      That was the attraction of the restaurant I mentioned, brittle peanut. It wasn't a 'regular' type place, so the artery clogging garlic butter bread, the fried onions, the gorgonzola salad dressing, and the steak were a sensational treat. And the price was right, the service (at least in the beginning) was exemplary, and the parking was free!

                      It's gone now, but ah I can still see that garlic bread, oozing right into the paper in the bread basket. Yum.

                      1. re: dolores

                        This will definitely ooze and clog!! Thanks, Delores.

                        1. re: Joe H

                          Doesn't the garlic counteract all the butter and cheese? That's what I'm going to tell myself.

                        2. re: dolores

                          Manero's was a great restaurant! quite memorable as you mentioned!

                          1. re: smilingal

                            Manero's made a great gorgonzola dressing too, as I remember.

                            1. re: smilingal

                              Greenwich Prime Meats still sells the Manero's gorgenzola dressing.

                        3. Oh yeah, this is gooood. This weekend I made a slight variation: fire up the grill and toast the bread on one side over the coals; put the garlic butter, etc. on the toasted side, then put the slices back on the grill, butter side up, to toast the other side and finish melting the butter. Just another layer of flavor from the grilled bread. Maybe even better than the original????

                          1. Anybody who ever ate at Maria's has very good memories of the place. The Lasagna was to die for.
                            Garlic bread was a treat for me as akid.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Tony Theobald

                              Tony, I've been to the Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach...and Maria's 300!!!! If you were here now I would open a bottle of red and recapture a bit of growing up.

                              1. re: Joe H

                                joe, i'm looking forward to trying this. NOW my research hat is twitching and I want to find out if caraway seeds are used anywhere in Italy. I know I have never seen them in an Italian cookbook, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they snuck in over the german/italian border....and perhaps appear in the cooking of that area. If not, I'm guessing that the Polish influence in Baltimore crept into this otherwise Italian dish there.?...

                                1. re: Joe H

                                  opinionatedchef, I've never seen another recipe for garlic bread that includes caraway seeds. It really does add another dimension to it. Still, this is a recipe from 35+ years ago when a lot of places still did things from scratch. Note that this calls for fresh minced garlic (a LOT of it) and fresh, softened butter (REAL butter). I'm guessing that many people who read this have never had real garlic bread made like this. The result is what may have been something of a standard in Baltimore's Little Italy in the early '70's but today, I think, it is the exception. Garlic bread made with mixing/blending butter and fresh garlic and then toasted is incredible. Reggiano, basil, hot pepper flakes and caraway seed put it way over the top!

                                  1. re: Joe H

                                    yes, i would bet an endowment that one will not find other garlic bread recipes
                                    containing caraway seeds. What i'm wondering is if caraway is used in any
                                    traditional Italian cooking in ITALY! I'm guessing that it is not, and that it got into your garlic bread via some Polish/German American chef or waitress in Baltimore!

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      trentino alto adige was marched over by the austro-hungarian empire for awhile and you will find soups flavored with caraway as well as pastries like strudels.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        ah HA! thanks for that info. Caraway seeds in SWEET strudel? how fascinating! would you plse suggest reading material? th. much.

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          no, no, caraway in soups and savory dishes. strudel is separate.

                              2. Caraway seeds, wow that is a twist. Are they pivotal to the recipe IYO?

                                No recipe...but I always mince some garilc cloves, mix with softened unsalted butter, Kosher salt, a bit of fresh ground pepper & dried oregano (mostly for color). My family adores this. Of course it must be accompanied by a red-sauce Italian dish for the perfect alchemy!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Funwithfood

                                  a layer of Reggiano on top with a sprinkling of caraway seeds. Give it a try!

                                  1. re: Joe H

                                    Is the basil fresh or dried? TY

                                  2. re: Funwithfood

                                    your garlic bread sounds very good.

                                    love dried oregano and makes sense in garlic bread.

                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                      I think once my oregano 'returns,' I'd use fresh. But my dried (from Penzeys) has plenty of flavor.

                                    2. if there's one thing I love to make it's garlic bread.
                                      although I too have a favorite from a specialty restaurant, I can't wait until tomorrow when I attempt yours.
                                      I'm doing John Besh's garlic rosemary stuffed pork loin, slow cooked and will no doubt have sandwiches for decades until it's gone.

                                      thanks JoeH

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                        Can you tell me where the recie for the pork loin can be found? I have both his cookbooks, but do not remember seeing this.

                                        1. re: angelsmom

                                          it's from the tv show on tvfoodnetwork "the best thing I ever made-garlic"
                                          I DVR the show.
                                          I looked it up online @ the foodnetwork website


                                          angelamom-wonderful, especially loved the rich drippings

                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                            Thanks immensely. I do appreciate it.

                                            1. re: angelsmom

                                              angelsmom....more than my pleasure.
                                              remember to save the drippings for sopping

                                        2. re: iL Divo

                                          Hw did the roast turn out???? Where cani I find this Besh recipe? I have both his books.

                                        3. ok joeh, altho hubby's still sick I'm goin all in tonight :)
                                          can not wait and all is in tow (shopping cart) and paid for.
                                          I'll report after dinneau

                                          1. Yowsa! I have never, ever, seen a caraway seed for sale in Italy. Maybe in Trento? Italians buy butter, IF they buy it, in quantities of 125g and it lasts them weeks if not months.

                                            I don't think they even have a NAME for caraway seed:

                                            They want to translate it as either "cumin" or "fennel" or "anise"…

                                            But, if you like the OP's recipe, knock yourselves out!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: lidia

                                              LIDIA I do understand where you're coming from.
                                              I'm not sure what the other LIDIA would think of this recipe. I have tremendous respect for her.
                                              I'm always up for cooking challenges though, but only if I like the ingredients called for.
                                              If I didn't care for caraway seeds I'd not try this. If it called for (example) tarragon, I'd not attempt.

                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                At least there is an Italian name for tarragon (dragoncello).

                                              2. re: lidia

                                                The Italian word for carraway is "caro."

                                              3. hum, it 'is' Valentines Day after all

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                  Il Divo, can I ask you which John Besh pork loin recipe you tried, further down on this thread?

                                                  Was it this one? http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ga...

                                                  Or this one? http://virginiaplantation.wordpress.c...

                                                  Thanks so much!

                                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                    I just copied and pasted this from up above
                                                    it's from the tv show on tvfoodnetwork "the best thing I ever made-garlic"
                                                    I DVR the show.
                                                    I looked it up online @ the foodnetwork website


                                                    angelamom-wonderful, especially loved the rich drippings