Lista’s Restaurant Meatloaf

In my time, Lista’s Italian Cuisine stood at 74 Main Street and served primarily Italian foods, however, in its earlier years (1940’s & 50’s) the place was called The Campus Restaurant & Soda Bar and my grandparents were catering to the local “college town” clientele with typically American foods like sandwiches, char-broiled burgers, and ice cream sodas.

Then, as the story goes, after my Dad returned from serving in Korea, whenever some of the servicemen would come into the restaurant they would say to Grandma, “Hey Ma, make us some spaghetti” or “make us some lasagna” and the idea of serving Italian specialties took off. Still even at Lista’s Italian Cuisine some of the traditional American favorites remained on the menu: Grilled Steaks, Baked Ham, Fried Chicken, and of course Meatloaf!

Yet, the meatloaf on the Lista’s menu was not typically “American” in that it was never topped with ketchup or served with brown gravy and mashed potatoes. Lista’s meatloaf  didn’t contain veal, pork, sausage or bacon; no extra veggies or cheese. Instead it was an unpretentious combination of ground beef, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs and rolled oats (a nod to the leaner days of the Depression and my Dad’s time in the Army) and baked au naturel. The result; a dense, firm meatloaf — moist enough that it could be sliced very thin without crumbling. On the menu, the meatloaf was featured topped with sauteed green peppers and served with a side of spaghetti or fried potatoes.

So here is the recipe for the restaurant style meatloaf that I grew up with. Give it a try as written… or you could certainly use a beef/veal/pork meatloaf mix if you prefer; add some diced green peppers or other veggie (if you want to hide them from the kids). Feel free to adjust the seasoning to your particular taste — bake it in a bread pan and even top it with ketchup if you must. 

A note to my GLUTEN FREE friends… use GF rolled oats and bread crumbs — or substitute an equal amount of cooked quinoa instead.

Lista’s Restaurant Style Meatloaf

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6 – 8

2 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
3 Eggs – beaten
1 cup Rolled Oats (not instant)
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Onion – finely diced 
1 TBSP Dry Parsley Flakes
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in the middle. Prepare a rimmed baking pan with foil or parchment and spray with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl add all the ingredients listed and knead together with clean hands (or use disposable gloves) until thoroughly combined and no dry ingredients are left in clumps. 
3. Gather up all the meatloaf mixture in your two hands and roughly form it into a football shape. Place in center of prepared baking sheet and continue to press and form the meat into a loaf shape approximately 5 inches wide by 9 inches long.
4. Place meatloaf in the preheated oven and bake for 60 minutes until cooked all the way through and/or an instant read thermometer reads at least 165 degrees in the center.
5. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with your favorite side dishes.

There you have it, the Lista’s Restaurant version of meatloaf. Leftovers freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave without losing texture. Sliced thin it makes great sandwiches (I like mine on toast with mayo and sliced tomato).

Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”

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