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Lusco's

722 Carrollton Ave., Greenwood, MS - (662) 453-5365
Posted By Michael Stern on 2/23/2010 4:35:00 PM
Cotton planters around Greenwood came to know Charles “Papa” Lusco in the 1920s when he drove a horse-drawn grocery wagon to their plantations, bringing supplies from the market he and Marie “Mama” Lusco ran. Mama sold plates of her spaghetti at the store, and Papa built secret dining rooms in back where customers could enjoy his homemade wine with their meals. The clandestine cubicles remained, giving Lusco’s a seductively covert character that Karen Pinkston, a third-generation Lusco, and her husband Andy don’t ever want to change.

Mama and Papa were Italian by way of Lousiana, so the flavors of the kitchen they established are as much Creole as they are Southern or Italian. Gumbo, crab, and shrimp are always on the menu, and oysters are a specialty in season -- on the half-shell or baked with bacon. Because so many regular customers are big spenders from well-to-do cotton families, the menu is best known among them for its high-end items. Lusco’s T-bone steaks are some of the finest anywhere: sumptuous cuts that are brought raw to the table for your approval, then broiled to pillowy succulence. Pompano has for many years been a house trademark (when available, usually the spring), broiled and served whole, bathed in a magical sauce made of butter, lemon and secret spices.

The sauce for Lusco’s broiled shrimp is nearly as far-famed as that used on pompano and trout. Firm, plump crescents are served in a silky translucent bath of buttery juice that has the zing of vinegar and pepper, and also a fusillade of strange, beguiling spices (could that be cardamon we taste?!).

Lusco’s is also known for its New Orleans-style salad of iceberg lettuce dolled up with anchovies, capers, and olives and liberally sopped in a fragrant vinaigrette; but Karen Pinkston is a serious salad buff who has made it her business to concoct more modern alternatives. One evening’s choices included Mediterranean salad, made with feta cheese; traditional Caesar salad; and a salad billed as Gourmet’s Delight, made with arugula, radicchio, endive, red lettuce, and spinach. “Andy likes to tease me about that one,” Karen said about the latter. “He tells me it’s just weeds I’ve picked by the side of the highway. But the fact is that the Delta is different now than it used to be, and the new people have more educated palates. Even this place has to change with the times.”

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
pompano
Onion Rings
broiled shrimp
Salad
steak
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Whole broiled pompano, sitting in a lemon pepper vinegar sauce, is a Lusco's specialty.
"Whole broiled pompano, sitting in a lemon pepper vinegar sauce, is a Lusco's specialty."
Cliff Strutz





Lusco's porterhouse is one of the great steaks in the state of Mississippi.
"Lusco's porterhouse is one of the great steaks in the state of Mississippi."
Michael Stern


The broiled shrimp appetizer comes in a delicious Worcestershire sauce.  The bread comes in handy for mopping up the extra sauce.
"The broiled shrimp appetizer comes in a delicious Worcestershire sauce. The bread comes in handy for mopping up the extra sauce."
Cliff Strutz


A lovely way to start a meal: a heap of crunchy onion rings.
"A lovely way to start a meal: a heap of crunchy onion rings."
Michael Stern


I asked the waiter what seasoning was used on my porterhouse, but it is a secret, as he said he didn't even know.  This was one of the most flavorful steaks I have ever had.
"I asked the waiter what seasoning was used on my porterhouse, but it is a secret, as he said he didn't even know. This was one of the most flavorful steaks I have ever had."
Cliff Strutz


As you sit in your booth, you can hear the food carts rumble up and down the hallway.  I eagerly anticipated the cart stopping outside my booth, signaling dinner had arrived!
"As you sit in your booth, you can hear the food carts rumble up and down the hallway. I eagerly anticipated the cart stopping outside my booth, signaling dinner had arrived!"
Cliff Strutz


In a private curtained booth, Jane shows the basket of saltines that adorns each table. Note the ghastly color scheme and lighting!
"In a private curtained booth, Jane shows the basket of saltines that adorns each table. Note the ghastly color scheme and lighting!"
Michael Stern


Need your waiter?  Each booth comes with a buzzer.
"Need your waiter? Each booth comes with a buzzer."
Cliff Strutz


A view down the hallway at Lusco's shows many curtained booths.
"A view down the hallway at Lusco's shows many curtained booths."
Cliff Strutz


Lusco's has been a destination restaurant for citizens from Mississippi cotton country (and beyond) for three-quarters of a century.
"Lusco's has been a destination restaurant for citizens from Mississippi cotton country (and beyond) for three-quarters of a century."
Michael Stern


The groceries are gone, but the secret booths in the back room retain their privacy curtains and buzzers to summon the staff.
"The groceries are gone, but the secret booths in the back room retain their privacy curtains and buzzers to summon the staff."
Michael Stern


The land around Greenwood remains cotton country.  We photographed this patriotic stack of picked cotton about five years ago on our way to Lusco's.
"The land around Greenwood remains cotton country. We photographed this patriotic stack of picked cotton about five years ago on our way to Lusco's."
Michael Stern



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