Things Going On Around Town
There are restaurants opening around town, which is not all that unusual. One is a pizza joint that was also a pizza joint before. Another is a Haitian restaurant that, when I first ran into it, was at the St. Roch Market food hall. Then there’s a grocery that’s apparently going to have a restaurant that’s opening in Broadmoor.
I have to admit that I never got around to checking out Bonci. I regret it because I heard good things about the food. I am a fan of our local cuisine, but I am also a fan of good food and if someone brings good food here, I am in favor.
When I was a younger man, I learned what good pizza could be at Mark Twain’s Pizza Landing, in Metairie. My friend Dan ran the show there and having grown up on Pizza Hut, Domino’s and the like, it was a revelation. This pizza had crust that was worth eating. It was blistered and crisp and light and still chewy in places. He’d put garlic on the outside of the crust if you asked and I did every time.
Dan was making New York style pizzas (with a bit of a local twist) back in the late ’80s, and that style of pizza – thin crust cooked quickly at really high temperature – has caught on here in a big way with places like Pizza Delicious, Mid City Pizza and Nola Pizza Co., among others. Joining that roster, though with more bona fides, is Paulie Gee’s Crescent City Slice Shop, which is taking over the former location of Bonci on Julia Street.
I love a good slice, and I hope Paulie Gee’s provides one. I don’t know when I’ll be in the Warehouse District looking to spend $4.25 for a slice, but if it’s actually good New York-style pie? I’m there. For a slice. If it’s mind-blowing, I’ll be back, but to be honest there’s so much good pizza near me that I’m not making a special trip unless it’s worth it.
I will report if I have a chance to sample it, and if you’ve already checked it out, please email me or leave a comment.
I first got to try Chef Charly Pierre’s food at the St. Roch Market food hall, and I liked it. I think at the time I wrote about how odd it is that with all of the connections between New Orleans and Haiti we don’t have more Haitian restaurants here. I’m very happy to say that Pierre has opened Fritai on Basin street and I’m looking forward to checking his food out in a more stable setting.
What you need to know is that Haitian food is a lot like ours in its basics. We are both Caribbean cultures, at the end, and while Haiti was closer to France than Spain, both of us have benefitted from the influence of African, European and indigenous Caribbean cuisines. Hell, Haiti is just about the only other place that calls the gourd, “chayote” by its proper name, which is “mirliton.”
I recommend you check out Fritai, which you can do every day from 4 to 10 p.m. at 1535 Basin St. I think you’ll find familiar flavors but served in a way that will surprise you.
Rouse’s is opening a market on Freret street in the space that used to sell gently used clothes through the Junior League. I learned about it from my friend Ian McNulty, in the Advocate but there’s a paywall on that site, so read quickly if you’re not a subscriber. Here’s what I can tell you: the space is not going to be big enough for a traditional grocery store. It’s also going to have a restaurant and that restaurant will serve alcohol.
I like Rouse’s, and if given the choice I’ll shop there over Winn Dixie or Sav-A-Center any day of the week, but I’m reserving judgment on this new place. It’s a neighborhood that really needs a grocery, and I’m hoping Rouse’s isn’t planning on this development being just another “upscale” outlet for people looking to buy expensive cheese and moderately-priced bottles of mediocre wine. To be honest, that’s absolutely me, but I don’t need another place to do that. The neighborhood needs a place that sells reasonably-priced, fresh produce.
I do have some faith that Rouse’s intends to do something good with this new location. I’ve talked to a lot of their employees over the years since they opened their first store here and they get high marks, which is a good sign. They use a lot of local farmers, ranchers and other vendors, and that is also a good sign. I wasn’t happy to see a member of the family that owns the business at the Capital on January 6th, but based on what I know, I am willing to believe that current management are not of the same opinion.
I have no idea how the new location is going to work out, but it’s going to be very close to my home so I will almost certainly be there within a day of its opening. As I mentioned in connection with Paulie Gee’s, I will report back when I do.