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We Tried UConn's Bacon Jalapeño Mac & Cheese. Was It Worth It?

Because you're curious: We reviewed the bacon jalapeño mac and cheese at UConn

Before this week, the University of Connecticut's most recognizable campus food may have been its Dairy Bar ice cream. But now it may be the macaroni and cheese served in the Student Union.

In a nine-minute video that surfaced Monday and quickly went viral Tuesday, UConn student Luke Gatti is shown at Union Street Market loudly demanding "[expletive] bacon jalapeño macaroni and cheese," hurling profanities and insults and shoving the manager several times before he is subdued by employees and handcuffed by police. At the beginning of the clip, the manager is heard refusing the 19-year-old Gatti service for "carrying an open bottle of booze." 

Gatti was arrested around 10 p.m. Sunday and charged with second-degree breach of peace and first-degree criminal trespass, according to a police report. By 7 a.m. Wednesday, the YouTube clip had reached more than 1.5 million views. 

And like most who viewed the video, we were curious. How good is that macaroni and cheese? Online producer Megan Merrigan, who graduated from the university in 2014, called the dish "top-notch...perfect mix of baked and gooey," though she said she's yet to have it with bacon and jalapeño topping. 

So we made the trek from Hartford to Storrs Tuesday afternoon to sample for ourselves, finding two fresh-looking trays of the macaroni and cheese at the Fireside Rotisserie counter around 4 p.m. Bacon and other add-ons appear to be part of a toppings bar option, which is served as a late-night offer. Thinking fast, we asked to buy sides of bacon and jalapeños from the salad bar. (One employee behind the counter burst out laughing when he realized what we were doing, but the head of dining services, C. Dennis Pierce, politely declined comment via email.) 

Before we mixed in our toppings, we tried the macaroni on its own, and it's exceptional: soft twists of what look like gemelli pasta coated in a smooth, rich sauce and finished with a crispy, golden baked cheese crust. Though the bacon we snagged from the salad bar was a little underdone, it still added satisfying salty, fatty notes, and the peppers brought a touch of tangy heat. 

But is the dish worth risking arrest and international notoriety and humiliation? Well, only Luke Gatti can truly answer that question. 

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