Bistro Italia a neighborhood gem

Photo by Chris Arnold -- The foccacia bread at Bistro Italia was well-seasoned, topped with mozzarella and served warm.

We felt warmly welcomed stepping into Bistro Italia last weekend. The relatively new restaurant felt like an oasis after enduring the evening traffic on Coursey Boulevard. The friendly greeting, soft lighting, nice music and only one discreetly placed TV with the sound turned off all made us feel relaxed and ready to enjoy a lovely dinner. … Continue reading →

Gator done, and done well, y’all

Advocate photo by Ian McNulty - Fried alligator is a fixture at Cochon in New Orleans.

Alligator has always been fashionable when it comes to boots, belts and purses, but as an edible commodity it has worn a decidedly more lowbrow reputation. Broken into little bits and fried, or maybe jabbed through a skewer and fried, it’s been mostly a “hey look!” kind of food – the equivalent of the mixed drink served in … Continue reading →

Go hog wild at City Pork

Advocate staff photo by Beth Colvin -- The wedge salad, in all of its blue-cheese-and-bacon-covered glory, is, in a word, heavenly.

The wedge salad doesn’t have many moving parts. There’s your wedge of iceberg lettuce, your blue cheese dressing, your bacon, a smattering of tomatoes. City Pork, like with much of its menu, has elevated the humble wedge to heavenly. First off, there’s the wedge, which in this case is actually an entire half … Continue reading →

Blend pairs food, wine

Photo by TIM ARNOLD -- Fried green tomatoes at Blend are topped with red tomato marmalade and lump crabmeat mixed with a green onion aioli.

Blend, a downtown restaurant and wine bar specializing in blended wines, also serves up absolutely delicious dishes to enjoy along with them. Blend is located in a lovely, eclectically decorated older building which is very large but arranged in a way that the seating is intimate and cozy. A blended wine is one made using different … Continue reading →

More than a taste

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Swirl's Beth Ribblett, center, conducts the weekly tasting.

Oenophiles head to their neighborhood wine shop for interesting inventories, pairing advice from staff and, on the right day, maybe the chance to taste a few samples. They might not expect Middle Eastern street food, tapas cooked up as they watch or big bowls of red beans and rice served on the house. But … Continue reading →

Anthony’s Italian Deli: Go hungry, leave happy

Advocate photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- The GodFather sandwich at Anthony's Italian Deli combines American prosciutto, Genoa salami and provolone cheese with romaine lettuce and marinated peppers.

There is an art to making sandwiches. Anthony’s Italian Deli employs its share of Michaelangelos. Tucked in the back of a building on the south side of Florida Boulevard, Anthony’s would be impossible to find but for the sign near the service road, and it rewards the seeker. The tiny establishment, with a table or two for … Continue reading →

Mellow Mushroom: Family-friendly and funky blend for tasty treat

Advocate photo by KIMBERELY NOBLE -- The funky q. pizza at Mellow Mushroom was delightful, with a soft crust, sweet sauce and tender chicken chunks.

A pizza restaurant tucked near the Tigerland community might be packed with a college crowd on any given day. But my companions and I were delighted Saturday afternoon to enter a mellow, family-friendly atmosphere filled with soft alternative music and designed with wacky pieces. A female mannequin covered in silver sequins, and wearing a boa and purple and … Continue reading →

Restaurants revitalize Tulane Avenue

Photo by ELESA HAHNE -- Tyler Chauvin prepares a craft cocktail at Treo, a new bar, small plates restaurant and gallery on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans.

What’s the difference between crazy and visionary? On Tulane Avenue in New Orleans, Pauline and Stephen Patterson are hoping the answer is just a matter of time and a big dose of hospitality. Last week, the couple opened Trèo, an upscale lounge specializing in craft cocktails and internationally inspired small plates and doubling … Continue reading →

Street Breads delivers with speed and flavor

I’m a sucker for a place that delivers, especially to my office. Any meal that doesn’t have me getting out in Baton Rouge traffic will surely be a good one. Street Breads delivers a range of salads, sandwiches and pizzas that should cover any hungry bunch of office workers. Our nine-person order arrived almost surprisingly … Continue reading →

Leroy’s falls short of expectations

We wanted to like Leroy’s. We really did. Being Southern, and liking to eat what our doctor doesn’t recommend, a place that specializes in Southern comfort food sounded right up our alley, right down to the sweet tea. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen for us. Our two visits weren’t without highlights, but nothing that would bring us … Continue reading →

Le Bon Temps Bar and Grill: Good times, good food

Photo by TIM ARNOLD --The duck and andouille egg rolls were stuffed with seared duck breast, andouille sausage and shredded braised cabbage and carrots.

Entering through an open-air courtyard with tables and large screen TVs offered a good transition from the parking lot of the fairly new shopping center on Perkins Road to the corner restaurant, Le Bon Temps Bar and Grill, that really impresses with its modern decor and stylish bar. Red and dark gray walls get warmth from lots of … Continue reading →

Ian McNulty: Breakfast, and biscuits, on Banks

Advocate staff photo by IAN MCNULTY -- Pot roast and debris gravy cover thebiscuits at Biscuits & Buns on Banks Street in New Orleans.

Sometimes it’s phrased as a question, and sometimes it’s just a complaint. But whichever form it takes, one of the refrains I hear often about the New Orleans restaurant scene is a request for more breakfast specialists. Evidently, word traveled to the edge of midcity, where a two-block bit of Banks Street has quietly emerged … Continue reading →

TOPS IN TASTE: Our favorite meals of 2013

Photo by RANDY BERGERON -- Filet medallions topped with grilled shrimp and lump crabmeat and a dish of stuffed potatoes

We came. We saw. We dined. Fifty-two restaurants later, Red looks back on 10 of our favorite meals of 2013. Some fell in the white linen tablecloth category, others the more paper towel variety. We sampled sushi and seafood, steak and shawarma. And oh, the desserts — creme brulee, chocolate pecan pie — need we say more? … Continue reading →

Creole candy maker expands but keeps an eye on its roots

Photo by ELSA HAHNE -- Mary Richardson, left, and Robin McClendon make pralines at Aunt Sally's new St. Charles Avenue location.

It’s easy to think of pralines as a simple pleasure. Traditionally made with just a handful of common ingredients and readily available around New Orleans in one form or another, it might even be easy to take them for granted. But watch veteran candy makers Mary Richardson and Robin McClendon prepare a batch at the new … Continue reading →

Café Bella: A new home for the holidays

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Café Bella's dining room invites guests to linger at their tables through the last bit of wine and conversation.

Let this ristorante Italiano make you an offer you can’t refuse. Again. Anyone who’s ever been to Italy knows how food and passion can come together at the same time. At once sensual, colorful, merry and celebratory, it’s a lot like romance — a seductive experience. Carefully and lovingly prepared, Italians know how to savor their meals, … Continue reading →

Which Wich’s sandwich selection delivers endless possibilities

Photo by CYNTHIA V. CAMPBELL -- The delicate crab and artichoke sandwich on white bread, dressed with mayonnaise, red onions, lettuce and bell peppers, was one of our favorites at Which Wich.

Legend has it that in 1762 Britain’s fourth Earl of Sandwich ordered meat to be served between two slices of bread to avoid interrupting a gambling game. It may be rumor or propaganda, but people have been following his fast-food idea ever since. No doubt, the earl would heartily agree that today’s fast-food spots serve people’s needs. … Continue reading →

La Carreta: Fresh and friendly

Photo by GENA BERGERON -- A waiter whips up guacamole tableside at La Carreta in Ponchatoula.

La Carreta has extended its south-of-the-border flavors to yet another locale, Ponchatoula. The restaurant, which opened last spring, is in the former location of Rockefeller’s, beside the railroad tracks downtown. The subtly-lit restaurant features boldly-painted accent walls, exposed brick, framed artwork and hanging lights. A bit of the former restaurant remains with the large painting of festively-dressed … Continue reading →

Al-Noor spices it up

Photo by CYNTHIA V. CAMPBELL -- Buffet selections at Al-Noor Indian Cuisine include lamb curry, salad and watermelon.

The recent expansion of Indian restaurants in our area adds to south Louisiana’s treasury of fine dining. It’s fun to sample India’s regional dishes created by natives of their homelands. Such is the case of Al-Noor on George O’Neal Road, operated by a family from Delhi, India. Al-Noor is a cheerful restaurant with a well-lighted, contemporary … Continue reading →

A new day for beignets

Advocate staff photo by JOHN MCCUSKER -- Beignets and cafe au lait are the classic pairing at New Orleans coffee shops old and new, including  New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co.'s Uptown location.

A vintage vibe pervades the Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park in New Orleans. An arch of bare light bulbs, tile floors and mirrored counters adorn a room where waiters in white coats and black bowties serve its signature café au lait and beignets 24/7. Cops and cabbies swing by for orders to go, nostalgic couples linger … Continue reading →

Rocco’s hits all the high points

Advocate photo by BETH COLVIN -- Fries accompany a roast beef poboy at Rocco's PoBoys & Grill on Government Street. This latest location of Rocco's gets it right.

In south Louisiana, the po-boy is the sandwich by which a restaurant, from white tablecloth to vinyl tablecloth, is judged. It seems simple. Bread, lettuce, tomato, mayo, protein, right? But it’s not. The bread has to be the right bread, the lettuce the right amount, the mayo applied properly, and so on. Rocco’s PoBoys & … Continue reading →

Viet Garden an entertaining adventure

With its abundance of aromatic herbs, hearty soups and pleasant seasonings, Vietnamese cuisine can be an entertaining adventure. But, like many adventures, it’s helpful to have a guide. Viet Garden is not the first such restaurant in its current location on Florida Boulevard, and it offers an array of more than 100 items. For the Vietnamese community … Continue reading →

New generation flips script for traditional Vietnamese restaurant

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Fries with spicy, Korean kimchi make a popular appetizer at Maple Street's new Ba Chi Canteen.

With new Vietnamese restaurants proliferating across town, New Orleans has grown more accustomed to the roster of staple dishes shared by practically all of them. But don’t get too comfortable with the lineup. Just as more people are learning the nuances of the fragrant beef soup called pho, the rice noodle salads called bun and lushly dressed … Continue reading →

Zea’s good food, generous servings create great meal experience

Photo by TIM ARNOLD -- Zea's goat cheese appetizer featured three large medallions of cheese in a crispy batter served atop an Asian-flavored, very thin sesame seed cracker.

The eclectic menu at Zea Rotisserie & Grill makes sure there’s something for almost everyone. Asian to Cajun is represented with lots in between. Decorated in warm colors and soft lighting with colorful prints along the walls, the restaurant, one of several in South Louisiana and Mobile, is very inviting and comfortable. The selection of soft music playing … Continue reading →

Mr. Ed’s: Passing the reins and the oyster knife

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Chris 'Bozo' Vodanovich, left, ran Bozo's for years. Ed McIntyre now runs the renamed but traditionally minded Mr Ed's Oyster Bar & Fish House at the same Metairie location.

When Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House opened last month in the former home of Bozo’s Restaurant in Metairie, it was clear this was a fresh start rather than a revival of the vintage Metairie eatery famous for its raw oysters and fried catfish. The name over the door is different, the menu is much larger … Continue reading →

Tiger Buffet offers delicious variety

Photo by GENA BERGERON -- Variety abounds at Tiger Palace II in Denham Springs. Clockwise, from left, are fried rice, chicken on a stick, egg custard, corn nuggets and a boiled crawfish.

There are things we look for when dining at restaurants that are primarily buffets — a variety of dishes, fresh ingredients, pleasant surroundings. Tiger Palace II scored well on all of these, and for the most part, we enjoyed each item we sampled. Located in Denham Springs’ Antique Village, the roomy restaurant was the location … Continue reading →

New Orleans barbecue is booming in all its regional forms

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Beef brisket and ribs fill a platter at the The Joint in New Orleans.

For as many distinctively local food traditions as New Orleans can claim, barbecue has not historically been part of the equation. While that’s long been the bane of local lovers of ribs and brisket, lately it’s starting to look more like a blessing. There has been a boom in the number of local barbecue restaurants in just … Continue reading →

Follow the spice trail to Curry N Kabab

Photo by CYNTHIA V. CAMPBELL -- Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Massla (creamy sauce), basmati rice with mixed vegetables, and a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots and feta cheese fill the plate at Curry N Kabab.

One step into Curry N Kabab and your appetite perks up. The aroma from the buffet table laden with foods from India draws you into this simple neighborhood café. While you may not be able to pronounce the names, many of the dishes contain spices familiar to south Louisiana diners, such as pepper, garlic, onions, cilantro and cayenne. … Continue reading →

From sauerkraut to sausage, German’s always on the menu in N.O.

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The traditional German dish maultaschen gets a Creole remake from chef Matt Regan at Luke in New Orleans.

The way people tuck into traditional Bavarian food this time of year, you’d think Oktoberfest celebrations were the only chance New Orleans had for dishes like bratwurst, spaetzle and red cabbage. But there is a steady current of German food running through local restaurants year-round, sometimes turning up in unexpected quarters and contemporary renditions. For instance, … Continue reading →