The building that houses La Petite Grocery was once the site of the Central Coffee Butter and Tea Depot but suffered from a fire in the early 1900s. The restaurant’s name pays homage to the original site of the building.

Chef Justin Devillier has a difficult time deciding on one dish that is his favorite. “It depends on my mood and the weather,” says Devillier. “I don’t really want to cook tomatoes in the dead of winter or cook a really rich gumbo in the heat of the summer. If I was going to eat right now I would go for one of our braised meat dishes and smothered greens.”

Everyday, Chef Devillier offers about three specials on the chalkboard. These dishes are based on what is available to the kitchen that day. On the bar side Devillier says that for Mardi Gras all cocktails will be available in to-go cups. An excellent beverage to try is La Petite Grocery’s own creation the “Good Old-Fashioned” which has muddled satsumas, brandied cherries, satsuma sugars and Angostura Bitters. Also a parade-friendly dish would be the LPG Cheeseburger which has home-made pickles, onion marmalade, arugula, gruyere and fries.

   La Petite Grocery  4238 Magazine St., 891-3377

– M.L.

New old fashioned at La Petite Grocery

Gambino’s different layers

Gambino’s Bakery opened in 1949 and, despite changes in ownership over the years, has specialized in making all its products from scratch. Selections include king cakes, chocolate and lemon doberge cakes and red velvet cake.

Each year Gambino’s sells about 120,000 King Cakes, including those that are shipped throughout the country.

These King Cakes come in traditional, filled or double filled.

Other cakes are also sold throughout the year for popular occasions including birthdays, graduations and weddings.

Sam Scelfo Jr., president of Gambino’s Bakery and owner since 1979, says, “Building a wedding cake to feed 1,800 people and the accompanying trials and tribulations,” is one of his favorite memories from working at the bakery.

According to Scelfo, Gambino’s has created a red velvet heart-shaped cake for Valentine’s Day. If red velvet cake doesn’t strike your fancy, Scelfo recommends the petit fours.

Information, 885-7500, 4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie; 391-0600, 300 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna; gambinos.com

– M.L.

New old fashioned at La Petite Grocery

Bacco Plans for Carnival

Back in 1991, when Bacco first opened, the dress code fell anywhere from casual blue jeans to formal black tie attire. Today guests tend to still wear blue jeans but, management says, expect a black tie dinner.

Bacco is known for its “simple gutsy food” says Charlee Williamson, executive vice president of Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, “Food with the intrinsic taste of superior fresh ingredients. Such is the demand of New Orleanians and Italians a like,” says Williamson. “The menu originally featured more Northern Italian dishes, and over the years it has become more Creole Italian featuring various local seafood and fresh pastas.”

Bacco has different areas: The Skylight Room, The Courtyard, The Chartres Street Room and The Wine Room, but all have a New Orleans flair for fine dining. Williamson says, “Guests enjoy the perk of dressing casual without having to trade down on the quality of food, service and hospitality we offer at Bacco.”

During Mardi Gras Williamson recommends grabbing one of the specialty paninis and $.10 martinis. After Bacchus, head on over to have a Valentine’s dinner for two featuring the Filet Mignon, Bacco Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli.

Last but not least, the Lenten Seafood menu will kick off Friday, Feb. 19.

Information, 522-2426, 310 Chartres St., bacco.com.

– Mallory Lindsly