Oysters or Ersters?

New Orleans’ love affair with oysters is a long and flavorful one. A New York Times article from February 17, 1889, describes the blooming oyster business, claiming that by 1900, New Orleans would be supplying the oysters for the entire territory west of the Mississippi River. As they put it, “(New Orleans’) oyster supply is inexhaustible.”

One company supplying many of those oysters was P&J Oysters. Founded in New Orleans in 1876 by John Popich, who partnered with Joseph Jurisich around 1900, P&J was shipping their Louisiana oysters to 48 destinations in the U.S., Mexico and Canada by the 1930s.

Also making their mark on local oyster history was Antoine’s Restaurant, opened in 1840 in the French Quarter. Antoine’s son, Jules Alciatore, invented what’s arguably the most famous oyster dish: Oysters Rockefeller. As legend goes, the dish was so rich they “wanted a name that would signify ‘the richest in the world’,” so they named it after John D. Rockefeller.    

Uptown New Orleans shares in this oyster lore. Tourists who clamor for inside tips on where to get the best oysters are often directed to Casamento’s, established in 1919 on Magazine Street. Sticking to tradition, Casamento’s is closed in the summer months, when local oysters aren’t in season.

Pascal’s Manale, on Napoleon Avenue, opened in 1913. Their oyster bar is legendary, not just for fresh, salty oysters but also for its social chatter and ambiance. Photos of local and international legends adorn the walls, showing its reputation is widespread and well-earned.

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