Summer is here and the time is right for not cooking at home – because it turns my kitchen into a kiln. Not to worry, I’ve been out trying some of our newest restaurants.
I like New York pizza, North Carolina barbecue and New Orleans seafood. The only time my preferred locales don’t matter is when it comes to dessert. I would take a ganache mansion in any part of the world. A new pizzeria captures all of my beloveds on their menu, sans the mansion. Located on Frenchmen Street, Desperado’s Pizza isn’t a destination just for Marigny diners, but for anyone who wants a unique and delicious piece of the pie late into the night. Their specialties range from a veggie-friendly Portobello pizza, featuring a house-made basil pesto sauce, to the “Cajun” pizza with a sweet red sauce, crawfish and fried green tomatoes – an odd but utterly crave-worthy slice. They have a full bar, and a few microbrews including Brooklyn Lager. It is a good place to unwind with a single slice and a pint. (Though I still yearn for the days of Sugar Park Tavern with their live music and awesome pizza. Alas.) But Desperado’s is awesome in a different way – they have clean bathrooms with toilets of which you don’t have to be afraid. You can create your own pizza or order a specialty pie. “Da Guido” pie features pepperoni, sausage and prosciutto. Sadly, the pulled pork pizza isn’t called Da Redneck; it’s called El Desperado, the restaurant’s signature pie that’s a little bit country (cabbage slaw) and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll (fire roasted jalapeños). Desperado’s also has dessert pizza: brazenly delicate pastries topped with poached pears, pistachios, and brie or red and green apples, caramelized pecans and cheddar cheese. They have delivery for folks nearby, but the service inside was just dandy for the rest of us.
Sukho Thai, a Marigny favorite, recently opened the doors on their second location uptown. Located in the former Savvy Gourmet, the dining room has welcomed the addition of exotic ceiling fans and loads of high tables among banquettes, a chic but casual setting for lunch, dinner or a cup of tea (in fact, their extensive gourmet tea list is reason alone to visit). Offering lunch specials from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., this is a healthy option for those who need their workday spiced up without all the bloat. The lunch menu keeps it simple with a short selection of rice, noodle, and curry-based dishes. The dinner menu is several pages long including specialties from the wok – the sizzling Waterfall Beef with hints of onion, lime and sweet basil won’t disappoint – as well as ample vegetarian curries, noodle dishes and even vegan offerings. Seafood specialties like the curried soft shell crab and a crispy whole fish are hard to resist, but my heart belongs to the Duck Panang Curry featuring tender, boneless cuts of savory duck with zucchini, carrots, peas and peppers in a rich and decadent curry. You can order curries as spicy as you want, but take caution: A man eating nearby told his waiter that his dish was really spicy, like, really spicy, but assured her he liked it that way. Then he shooed her away and finished his meal with a smile and a flash flood caused by the sweat pouring from his forehead.
He should’ve headed up Magazine Street to Pinkberry for a frozen treasure. There is a price to pay for good frozen yogurt made with non-fat milk and real non-fat yogurt. You must wait in line with a slew of loud kids, their parents distracted by smart phones and their grandparents unaware there’s even a line. It is kind of like waiting to board an airplane, except the pay off comes in the form of frosty-goodness. The flavors are few: tart original, chocolate, mango, coconut and for a limited time watermelon. But toppings abound – try organic gummy bears, Belgian shaved chocolate or honey-roasted sunflower seeds – and you can get as many as you want, so long as they fit in your cup. My go-to healthy dessert is the chocolate frozen yogurt with banana, coconut and toasted almonds, which should be washed down with a white Russian from St. Joe’s across the street.