Echo’s Pizza is closing, according to Ian McNulty of the Times Picayune/Advocate, who wrote a typically well-reported piece earlier this week. When I heard the news, my first thought was about the beautiful wood-burning oven, which is indeed beautiful but I suspect also limits the utility of the building if you are not in the market for a place whose first floor is dominated by a beautiful wood-burning oven.
My fear was that whoever bought the place would get rid of that oven, but fortunately Mr. McNulty has laid that fear to rest, because BRG Hospitality (née Besh Restaurant Group) is going to open a location of Pizza Domenica in the space.
I like Pizza Domenica, and the original Domenica for that matter. The restaurant in the Roosevelt Hotel opened by Mantilla and Besh with Alon Shaya at the helm has been one of my favorite places to eat in the CBD/Quarter, and that’s a pretty crowded market. When I worked downtown I’d eat there once every couple of weeks and I took more than one client there for dinner. Everybody I took loved it.
That said, I’m extremely disappointed that Echo’s didn’t make it. It was a great restaurant run by great people who, I should note, are still behind the outstanding restaurant 1000 Figs and Leo’s Bread, a stalwart at the local farmer’s market. What disappoints me is that while BRG has apparently offered positions to Echo’s staff, they can’t duplicate the vision behind the food cooked up by Theresa Galli and Gavin Cady, or the breads made by Kate Heller.
It’s not the end of the world; it’s not like the place is being taken over by the Olive Garden. It’s great that the group taking the space knows how to use the oven. It’s also not like there aren’t a number of interesting restaurants that have opened or are slated to open in the next several months. We’re still a city where great restaurants will succeed more often than not.
I hope Pizza Domenica does well on Banks Street. It’s about equidistant to me from the Magazine Street location, so I’ll probably be there at some point. But I’m going to miss Echo’s, that’s for sure.