Casey Abrams is already tasting the sweet nectar of fame. He was the talk of the Internet last week after his dramatic save on "American Idol." He's been linked romantically to one of his fellow contestants. And now, one of his favorite hangouts in his tiny hometown of Idyllwild, California, has named a comfort-food entrée in his honor.
While America is just getting to know the bearded bass plucker, Frank Ferro, the operating partner of Café Aroma, said he's known Casey for years and always appreciated the local kid's talent. That's why he was more than game to pay homage to the "Idol" finalist at the town's de facto meet-up spot.
"We've got around 3,000 year-round residents here," he said of the artsy, bucolic town in the mountains outside of Palm Springs. Abrams attended the Idyllwild Arts Academy, and Ferro said he's known Casey since the singer was in fifth grade. "He graduated with my kids and they knew him in middle school and high school," said Ferro. "He grew up in my house, and we all know each other's kids around here."
Because Aroma is the town's unofficial meeting place — Ferro said whenever there's a fire, earthquake, power outage or other emergency, Aroma is the first place people gather to catch up — Casey would often hang out and eat there. He also performed there with his jazz quartet, the Trio of Four, and as is the custom at the restaurant, the night's musicians got to choose a meal when they played.
Hence the new menu item, the "Casey Abrams Gnocchi Alfredo," a unique mixture of the traditional potato pasta with six meatballs and white sauce, a concoction Abrams created as his employee meal.
"This is a dish Casey created on his own," explained Ferro, who has gotten a rash of calls about the "Idol"atry at his establishment since TMZ posted a picture taken five weeks ago of Abrams cavorting with some of the belly dancers who perform at Aroma every week. "We have gnocchi on our menu, but the players here are like heroes, so they get a decent meal that they get to choose and he wanted his with alfredo sauce because he didn't want red sauce on it."
Eventually, Abrams will be able to come home and enjoy his unique dish in the cozy "Casey Abrams American Idol Lounge," a room that seats around 15 , nearly half the 35-person capacity of the main dining room in the decade-old restaurant.
Ferro said people are constantly stopping in and asking about Abrams in the small community where everyone knows everyone. Abrams' dad was in earlier this week for dinner, and his mother has promised to bring in some pictures to hang in the lounge. "If Idyllwild was a country club, Café Aroma would be the clubhouse," he said proudly.
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