Macaroni And Cheese

December 24, 2011 by staff 

Macaroni And CheeseMacaroni And Cheese, Few chefs can say their food is literally show-stopping, but now David Tolly can. As executive chef of Tolly’s 41 on the Farmington River, located at Collinsville’s Bridge Street Live entertainment venue, he created a macaroni-and-cheese dish that apparently impressed recent act Bob Malone enough to go back for seconds.

“He got about three songs into the show, and said, ‘All right, guys, that’s it, I’m going back into the kitchen for some more mac and cheese,’” Tolly said of the keyboardist known for performing with John Fogerty.

Tolly’s comfort dish — done “Irish” style with a Guinness cream sauce, or infused with truffle — is just one of the menu items catching buzz at the year-old venue’s new restaurant, which opened in October. Bridge Street Live owner Gary Cardillo brought the veteran chef on board and tasked him with creating unique offerings, including themed specials honoring nightly performers.
This is where Tolly gets creative, inspired by the backgrounds of the scheduled acts. So when New Jersey rocker Southside Johnny played in November, the specials menu featured Garden State diner food: deep-fried “ripper” dogs, disco fries and Sloppy Joe sliders. And when River City Slim and the Zydeco Hogs came through a few nights later, the specials were all N’Awlins: jambalaya with shrimp, andouille sausage and chicken; fried shrimp po’boys; Cajun beef tips and Bourbon Street pecan pie.

“It’s been very nice to be able to switch those things up,” says Tolly of the inspired plates, which he said requires a decent amount of research on his part. “That’s kind of our theme, experience dinner and a show like you never have before… You could come in for a show on Thursday, come back for a show on Friday and see a menu that’s completely different.”

Tolly, a Bloomfield native, earned a culinary degree at Manchester Community College and built his career through several local kitchens: Pettibone Tavern, Simsbury Inn and Simsbury 1820 House; Avon Old Farms Inn and most recently, the Hartford Hilton. His move to Tolly’s 41 was a way to get back in touch with the community, he said.

“I saw it as a chance to get back to a personal level,” he said. “In the hotel, [one] week you see 500 people and the next week, you see 500 different people. Here, we have quite a few regulars already.”

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