Just in time for March Madness, is Rockit Bar and Grill’s 4th annual Mac Madness! The event itself is a week-long celebration of all things mac ‘n cheese. During the week of March 18th, Rockit’s River North location will feature one inventive variety of America’s favorite cheese and pasta duo.
Executive Chef Amanda Downing has come back this year with five completely new mac ‘n cheese offerings. After arriving at Rockit equipped with a bottle of Lactaid pills, I had the chance to sample three of the five mac options: the Oxtail Gnocchi Mac, the Wagon Wheel Mac and the Lobster Mac.
First up, was my favorite of the night, the Oxtail Gnocchi Mac. This mac featured gnocchi, rather than macaroni, as the pasta base. Although Chef Amanda admitted the gnocchi was not made in-house, I have to admit, I would have been fooled. The gnocchi were tossed in a four-cheese base and topped with Guinness-braised oxtail and parmesan. I loved the tender texture of the oxtail that was similar to a braised short rib or brisket. This dish was by far the creamiest and cheesiest of the night, which was a huge reason why it became my favorite.
Next, we tried the Wagon Wheel Mac. This variety included another not-so-typical noodle, the nostalgic wagon wheel. The cluster of wheels were tossed with bacon sausage from local company Big Fork, as well as aged cheddar and a crispy topping of tortilla chips. The tortilla chip topping was great for helping to cut through that cheesiness. I also loved the smoky and salty bacon flavor combined with the fun texture of the wagon wheel pasta. The cheese included with this mac was less creamy and had more of a gritty texture and flavor.
Last, but not least, was the decadent Lobster Mac. The Lobster Mac featured spiral-shaped pasta with large chunks of lobster claw meat, green peas, tomatoes and cheddar jack cheese. This mac was definitely the most colorful of the three we sampled due to the mix of greens and reds and the beautiful pink color of the lobster meat. This was probably my least favorite, only because I felt it lacked the flavor that the other two packed. However, I did appreciate the quantity of fresh lobster on top.
Check out the full Mac Madness lineup here and let us know which of the mac ‘n cheese offerings wins your mac bracket!
Photos courtesy of Rockit Ranch Productions