Shaun Emmons, vocalist of the heavy metal band haarp, says in his thick, gravelly St. Bernard accent, "Just let me do all the ordering" as we approach the counter at the decades-old, nearly-destroyed, and newly-rebuilt Chalmette institution Rocky & Carlo's. Shaun explains that we're feasting here because it's a favorite, the kind of food that he grew up on as part of his heritage.
Shaun and his haarp bandmates, Keith Sierra and Grant Tom, have been carving out their spot in the local metal scene since 2006 with their brand of slow and incredibly commanding metal. They've had a hectic year so far, hiring bassist Bret Davis and working diligently on a soon-to-be-released full-length album. Haarp's last album The Filth was released on infamous rock vocalist Philip Anselmo's label, Housecore Records, in late 2010 to passionate critical acclaim and awards. Haarp recently finished touring throughout the South with Anselmo's internationally-renowned, hard rock super-group Down.
Shaun ordered his most beloved meal: Panéed Veal, Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Brown Gravy, Onion Rings, Salad and two Dixie Beers. Portions were enormous; we shared everything, yet couldn't finish it all.
Shaun was raised just blocks from this restaurant, and for him, the food here is comforting and nostalgic, as well as delicious - reminding him of home in St. Bernard Parish. "This is the kind of stuff we would get at Maw Maw's house on Sunday when everybody would show up for dinner…minus the onion rings," he says wistfully. "There'd be more vegetables on the table because we had a garden in the backyard. This is what I would consider St. Bernard Italian food."
Full and happy, Shaun said, "I mean, how awesome is this?" As we pile up the dirty napkins and lean back in our chairs to recover from this incredible meal, Shaun reminds me that haarp is playing at Siberia on July 27 before they head out on another long tour. And, no matter how far the tours takes him, he will always come back to the comfort food at Rocky & Carlo's. "This is the place you go and for reasons that you are tasting right now," he said. "It's that good."
Rocky & Carlo's • 613 W St. Bernard Hwy. • 504.279.8323 Correction from July Tasting Notes: Glen Andrews is the musician noted, not Glenn David Andrews.