Ralph’s and the Park
Owned by Ralph Brennan and managed by Roy Barre, Ralph’s on the Park has become a Mid-City destination for fine dining. The building that houses the restaurant dates back to the 1860s. It was constructed as a coffeehouse and concession stand for the park by a French immigrant who tended cattle in what is now City Park, says Charlee Williamson, executive vice president of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. Over the years, it passed through the hands of prominent restaurateurs; in 2003 Ralph Brennan opened the restaurant after a dramatic renovation.
Today, the restaurant serves “contemporary Creole cuisine with a focus on regional ingredients, products from local farmers, and fresh seafood,” says Williamson.
With large windows overlooking City Park, the restaurant offers a “picturesque” setting. “It’s casually elegant and residential in style,” she continues. “Ralph’s interior décor celebrates City Park by bringing the park into the restaurant, via floor-to-ceiling picture windows downstairs and French doors and a wraparound wrought iron balcony upstairs.” She adds that the restaurant also features colorful murals and warm wood flooring, which creates a “festive yet comfortable atmosphere.”
Information, 900 City Park Ave., 488-1000, 488-5100 (private parties).
Ristorante Filippo: Italian roots
“I’m a native New Orleanian of Italian descent,” says Chef Philip Gagliano, who co-owns Ristorante Filippo with his wife Mary. “I love food.” He learned his culinary skills from his mother and grandmother; unsurprisingly, his restaurant has gained success over the years with its delightfully classic dishes.
With 52 seats, the restaurant is intimate yet relaxed – the tunes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the likes can be overheard in the background – and Gagliano says it’s a great place to go in a group or on a date. “Our clientele mostly comes from the metropolitan area,” he explains. “We feel very fortunate that the food critics have loved us and have given us great reviews.” He says it’s not uncommon to come across groups on business lunches or local politicians meeting over a hot meal.
Gagliano recommends a variety of dishes. Oysters Origanate, which consists of oysters lightly dusted in Italian breadcrumbs, baked and finished with Romano cheese and parsley, and the Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Salad in addition to a variety of pastas and a special seafood soup – Philippa Soup – named for Gagliano’s mother.
Gagliano, who says he’s very “attached to his traditional Italian roots,” has been in the industry a long time. “My wife and I work very diligently” at the restaurant, which he says is just “a wonderful place to dine.”
Information, 1917 Ridgelake Drive, Metairie; 835-4008.
From Coffee to Cuisine: The Marigny Brasserie
What began as a small coffee shop in the Marigny is now one of the area’s most successful restaurants. The Marigny Brasserie, which was once called Café Marigny, began serving more substantial food and quickly needed more space so it moved down the street to its current location and changed its name. “With a much larger space and extensive bar and lounge area, business has continued to grow over the years,” says general manager Seth Stringer.
The restaurant, owned by Roland Adams, now serves a variety of dishes, using as much local seafood and produce as possible. Stringer says the cuisine is influenced from many areas of the world, including Louisiana, the Mediterranean and Asia.
Appealing to business people, visitors, music lovers and families, the restaurant offers a an interior “with clean lines and a dressy bistro feel,” says Stringer, adding that the atmosphere is always “fun and lively.”
This month, executive chef Daniel Esses is serving up new delicacies including a Wild Mushroom, Asparagus and Mascarpone Ravioli in a sweet Vermouth broth; Grilled Quail Salad and Herbes de Provence Duck Breast.
Information, 640 Frenchmen St., 945-4472.