Mardi Gras Road Trip: Liuzza's on Bienville

Should you find yourself hungry and thirsty in between Mardis Gras parades in New Orleans this weekend, try Liuzza's at 3636 Bienville in Midtown. Louisiana food writer Pableaux Johnson introduced me to this traditional New Orleans Italian spot. First, he ordered us a couple of Liuzza's famous giant frosted schooners of beer. We opted for Abita Amber on draft.

The restaurant has been a neighborhood favorite since 1947. It took a hit from Katrina, but bounced back is now open for business again. It's a raucous little joint with a jukebox and some gambling machines in the bar room and a dozen or so tables in the dining room in the back.

For appetizers, we started with a creamed spinach and oyster dish the restaurant calls oysters Rockefeller casserole. Then we got some oysters remoulade-- fried oysters drizzled with the orange sauce. (Oysters were the theme that weekend.) Don't miss Liuzza's outrageous oversize onion rings.

For dinner I got a cup of wonderful dark chocolate-colored chicken gumbo and half an oyster poor boy. Around the table, we also sampled Liuzza's artichoke pasta, a fried oyster platter, and spaghetti and meatballs. Pableaux ordered a big honking meatball poor boy dripping with Liuzza's awesome red gravy.

For dessert, we drove a couple of blocks to Angelo Brocato's century-old bakery and gelato shop at 214 North Carrollton. I couldn't believe some of the flavors--Italian chestnut gelato? I had a Napolean and a couple of bites of everybody's ice cream--the pistachio gelato was stunning.

What a dinner--it was like Mardis Gras in your mouth.

-Robb Walsh

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