I've extolled the virtues of this restaurant before, but it seems I can never get over the memory. American Cafe was a restaurant in the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown.

When my kids were young, we'd eat there once a week, so obviously it holds great memories for me. But that's not the only reason I'm nostalgic for it.

It had one of those menus where almost EVERY SINGLE ITEM was great. It was kind of Italian, kind of American, and VERY kid friendly; your kids would always be greeted enthusiastically and handed a coloring book and crayons when they walked in.

The highlight of the menu was the mozzarella stars.

They were delicious, but they were also the only star shaped mozzarella stick I've ever seen so of course the kids would go crazy for em. And they were served on a bed of fried spaghetti sticks with an awesome marinara.

I think American Cafe may still exist in another state or two, but In The 15 or so years of their absence from NJ, I've tried to replicate that appetizer, and I think I've finally gotten close.. here's how I make 'em. (You're gonna need to buy a star cookie cutter, but they're easy to find)

  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) seasoned dried breadcrumbs or panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb mozzarella, cut with cookie cutter into 1/2-inch (1-cm) thick stars oil for frying
  • I tsp Dried parsley
  • I tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 box of uncooked, boxed spaghetti, broken in half


  • Place breadcrumbs or panko on a plate.
  • Place eggs in shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Coat each cheese star in crumbs, then egg, then crumbs. Make sure to get the crumbs in all the corners. Transfer to wax paper-lined plate.
  • In large, non-stick skillet, heat 1/2-inch oil over medium-high until it shimmers.
  • Add cheese, in batches to fit.
  • Cook until coating is crisp and brown and cheese starts to melt but holds its shape, about 1 minute per side.
  • Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
  • In leftover oil, fry the spaghetti till golden. (Watch carefully!)
  • Transfer to plate and toss with parsley, basil, salt and pepper
  • Plate stars on top of spaghetti and serve with a size of sauce.

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