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The view from Mario's  

Mussels with Tomato, Parmesan, and Fine Herbs

We have been going to Mario's Bistro since they opened in 1995. For the last several years we have been going for our anniversary (one of our first dinners after arriving in early January) and again as our final dinner before leaving the island. We like the view, we like the staff, we like the physical plant, and we like the food and wine. It's not cheap and the wines can get very expensive, but for a special occasion, it can't be beat. This is one of Mario's signature dishes and one of our favorites. It can be had as an appetizer or a larger portion is available as a main course. His tuna on a bed of feather-light gnocchi with a tomato sauce is similar (in as much as two seafoods in a tomato based sauce are similar), and similarly fabulous.
Mussels with Tomato, Parmesan, and Fine Herbs

4 servings

2 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
3 cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade, flavored with onion, garlic, and basil
4 tablespoons butter
4 large cloves garlic, minced
.5 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
.5 cup parmesan, freshly grated

In a covered pot large enough to hold all the mussels, combine the tomato sauce, garlic, butter, herbs, and parmesan. Stir over medium heat until the butter melts and the sauce is warm. Add the mussels and fold them into the sauce with a long-handled spoon. Cover the pot and simmer over medium heat until the mussels shells open. Check the mussels after 8 minutes. If the mussel shells are not fully open, cook a few minutes longer. Divide the mussels among four deep soup plates, pour some sauce over each portion, and serve with lots of crusty bread.

  Mussels with Tomato, Parmesan, and Fine Herbs

François Prudhomme For wine, François Prudhomme (SXM's legendary sommelier) has chosen a 2007 Chardonnay Marques 2007 Concha y Toro {rated 90/100 by Wine Spectator} as an inexpensive choice at $12.50. At the high end, he likes the 2002 Pouilly-Fumé Baron De L De Ladoucette. It's pricey at $66.00, but full bodied, something of a necessity for Mario's flavorful cuisine. In the middle, he likes a rosé from Bandol Mas de La Rouvière (2006) Domaine Bunan for only $19.50. And no, he doesn't always dress like that. He was hosting a Mount Gay Rum party when I took that photo.

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