New Orleans is a simmering pot of gumbo with flavors and influences from several nationalities well represented in it. During our city's 300 years of existence, we've welcomed waves of immigrants from countries all over the world, and they've only added to our entirely unique culture. The Irish and Italian people who traveled here have left a tasty mark on this city, and their biggest holidays are here. Here are some places where you can indulge in the traditional eats of the Italians and Irish.
St. Patrick's Day will take place on the weekend this year: Sunday, March 17. The Irish began arriving in New Orleans in the early 1800s, and their food traditions continue to this day at many popular Irish pubs. In 2018, many new kitchens took over at Mid-City Irish pubs. Finn McCool's specifically brought The Wolfhound to their bar's kitchen in summer 2018 because they were cooking up Irish-fusion fare. On their menu, you can now find traditional and modern dishes, like fish and chips, Irish nachos, Guinness sliders, and a corned beef sandwich. Many people recommend the one-of-a-kind Salmon Fries. Just a few blocks away, The Holy Ground Pub also brought in new kitchen masters to up their Irish pub-food game. Mother Mary's happily serves fish and chips, homemade mashed potatoes, and shepherd's pie among their typical bar-food dishes. Mick's invited in Rum and The Lash, and they've got several interesting Irish-infused offerings. You can have corned beef poutine with spicy cabbage, mustard gravy, and beer-battered fries; fish and chips; or corned beef with spicy cabbage.
Parasol's and Tracey's are cultural institutions in the Irish Channel, especially during St. Patrick's season. At Parasol's, you may want to seek out the Irish Sundae, which is potato salad with roast beef debris on top. Tracey's offers a corned beef on rye bread sandwich, served with potato salad.
The world-famous Rib Room isn't known for Irish fare, but their shepherd's pie made with prime rib, braised vegetables, creamed parsnip potatoes, and mustard-and-ale cheddar cheese is a popular menu item.
St. Joseph's Day, on Tuesday, March 19, is well-known, due to the many St. Joseph's altars that are erected in churches, community centers, and even a few bars, but there are hundreds of places to get traditional and nouveau Italian dishes in this city year-round.
In Italy, northern regions have heartier fare with rich buttery sauces, lots of cheese, and land-animal meats. Southern regions produce more seafood-, vegetable-, tomato sauce-, and olive oil-based dishes. Vincent's Italian Cuisine, located in Uptown and Metairie, has the best of both these types of traditional Italian regional fare, even though the Catalanotto family, who started it in 1989, hailed from Sicily. Vincent's boasts a full menu of delicious pasta dishes, including cannelloni and fettucine alfredo; meat-forward meals, like chicken marsala and a seafood-stuffed pork chop; and specialties, including Rose of Sicily and Artichoke Vincent.
Impastato's in Metairie still labels their menu in Italian. For your primi piatti (main course), you can choose from several frutti del mare (seafood) dishes, like the Shrimp Scampi Don Giuseppe, or carne (meat) dishes, like Pecan-Smoked Filet Mignon.
In Old Metairie, you can shop for ingredients that you can put into your own Italian cooking at Nor-Joe Imports. While you're there, you can indulge in deli sandwiches, like the hefty Italian Meatball and Little Joe, or even a stuffed artichoke.
The Central Grocery store and restaurant in the French Quarter was established in 1906 by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo. There, you can order their famous muffuletta, dripping with their signature olive salad and Italian sausage. Marcello's Wine Market Café also boasts traditional fare, like spaghetti Bolognese and pollo arrostito.
Red Gravy offers Breakfast Spaghetti and Gnocchi & Eggs for those wanting to experiment with their Italian. Arabella Casa Di Pasta hasn't been around as long as the stalwart Italian restaurants, but they have a unique make-your-own pasta system that's popular with people looking for something specific. Venezia in Mid-City has traditional Italian dishes alongside hand-tossed pizza pies. The House Special pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and artichoke hearts, is highly recommended. Oak Oven Restaurant in Harahan is so popular that they've decided to expand to Mandeville and Metairie. Their wood-fired oven makes perfectly crisp crusts for their several signature pizzas.
The historic Pascal's Manale ties together beloved Italian dishes, like pasta with meatballs, with New Orleans favorites, like Grilled Fish Orleans. Mandina's has an interesting Italian-fusion dish, known as Crab Fingers in Wine Sauce, but they are known for their traditional Italian plates, po-boys, and muffulettas, too. Two Tony's separates its menu into Pasta Favorites (Shrimp Pasta Mediterranean, Capellini Aglio Olio) and Sicilian Marinara Favorites (lasagna, manicotti, and eggplant parmesan).
But Italian food isn't just savory. When you're ready for something sweet, head to Angelo Brocato's to pick out a pastry, biscotti, or delicious cannoli.
Gourmet cuisine has become extraordinarily diverse, and chefs enjoy experimenting and fusing together traditional foods from a variety of cultures to create something entirely new. However, the most long-standing dishes from Italy and Ireland will certainly last unfettered here for a long time to come.
The places mentioned in this article can be found at:
The Wolfhound—3701 Banks St., 504-486-9080
Mother Mary's—3340 Canal St., 504-662-9791, mothermarysnola.com (Temporarily Closed Due to COVID-19)
Rum and The Lash—4801 Bienville St., 504-265-8997, facebook.com/RumandtheLash
Parasol's—2533 Constance St., 504-302-1543, facebook.com/ParasolsNOLA
Tracey's—2604 Magazine St., 504-897-5413, traceysnola.com
Rib Room—621 St Louis St., 504-529-7045, ribroomneworleans.com
Vincent's—7839 St Charles Ave., 504-866-9313, vincentsitaliancuisine.com
Impastato's—3400 16th St., 504-455-1545, impastatos.com
Nor-Joe Imports—505 Frisco Ave., 504-833-9240, norjoe.com
Central Grocery & Deli—923 Decatur St., 504-523-1620, centralgrocery.com
Marcello's—340 Kaliste Saloom Rd. Suite C, Lafayette, 337-235-1002, marcelloscafe.com
Red Gravy—125 Camp St., 504-561-8844, redgravycafe.com
Venezia Restaurant—134 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-488-7991, venezianeworleans.net
Oak Oven—6625 Jefferson Hwy., 504-305-4039, oakovenrestaurant.com
Angelo Brocato's—214 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-486-0078, angelobrocatoicecream.com
Pascal's Manale—1838 Napoleon Ave., 504-895-4877, pascalsmanale.com