It's no small feat to whip up one of The Olive Branch Café's gourmet pizzas. The painstaking process begins long before lunchtime, with chefs preparing dough fresh for the day each morning. There's barely a moment to rest before orders begin flying in and the pizza makers spring into action, showering crusts with housemade sauces and high-quality cheeses. Their brows furrowed in concentration, their hands blurs, they layer pizzas with fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and fine spanish olives. Once the pies arrive triumphantly to the dining room, the chefs turn their attention to thick muffuletta subs, plump meatball calzones, and the jambalaya pastas that caught the attention of Gambit’s Best of New Orleans guide.
Out in the casual dining room, beneath warm red walls peppered with abstract art, guests clink glasses, feeling more content than a robot in a microchip factory. There, owner Russell "Rusty" Autry often strolls around the room, greeting newcomers and exchanging jokes with regulars.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco began helping out at his family?s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon. The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat?s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 450 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh cheeses.
"Owner Madison Curry's warm, smiling presence is underscored by baked goods that all but dare not to be ordered." This quote from a NOLA.com article hints at Il Posto's charm. But it only encapsulates a fraction of what makes the cafe so interesting. Italian cuisine forms the backbone of the menu, which features paninis such as the Bologna with mortadella, roasted red peppers, and balsamic dressing, as well as fontina grilled cheeses with inventive add-ins such as tuna, honey, and walnuts. Antipasti spreads can be built from a choice of meats or cheeses. In the mornings, on the other hand, the restaurant brews and serves its own house-blend coffee. Their java complements bagels, organic granola, and a rotating selection of pastries that can't stay long, as they have to get back to starring in peoples' dreams.
Fresco Café and Pizzeria has been serving pizza, pasta, and golden-brown strombolis for more than a decade. Nearly everything on the menu is made in house, including white or whole-wheat pizza crusts, hand-rolled meatballs, and the pasta sauces used to write the daily specials on the wall. Fresco Café's lavash rolls, a unique specialty, are worth a try—they feature roasted eggplant and pesto, pulled pork, or gyro meat rolled into warm lavash flatbread and served with rosemary potatoes. Of course, it wouldn't be Fresco Café if al fresco dining weren't an option—patrons can enjoy their Italian food inside or out on the patio.
A two-story white building stands on a tree-lined corner with "Liuzza's" painted in green block letters over the entrance's red, white, and green striped awning. Since 1945, these colors of the Italian flag have indicated Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar's Italian influences, which the staff complements by adding other flavors from the community's melting pot, serving a menu also brimming with Louisianan and Cajun fare. Inside the kitchen, chefs prepare signature Frenchuletta sandwiches piled high with Italian meats and seasonings, stir steamy pots of Cajun andouille gumbo, and layer french bread poorboys with deep-fried seafood. Sips of beer from frosted schooners, wine by the glass, and signature cocktails from the full bar accompany entrees. Stools host patrons as they watch games lighting up the behind-the-bar TVs. The collection of framed photos and artwork, meanwhile, showcases cartoons by Bunny Matthews salvaged after Hurricane Katrina's eight feet of flood waters engulfed the restaurant.
You might not expect to see fried pulled-pork ragu on a pizzeria menu, but it's a signature item at Little Vic's. Nestled in the historic French Quarter, the small Italian eatery serves its Sicilian-style pork atop pizza and fresh, chewy ciabatta rolls, or stuffed into arancini and pitoni—fried or baked pizza turnovers. The menu also includes familiar dishes such as traditional margherita, vegetable, ham, and sausage pizzas. For dessert, espresso complements Italian pastries and more than 18 rotating gelato flavors.