When you’ve got five kids at home, making birthday cakes becomes part of your regular routine. But it wasn’t before too many birthdays had passed that Cherie Berget’s cakes started gaining the attention of her friends and family, and soon enough, Nola Belles was in business creating custom decorated cakes. Now serving the area for more than eight years, Berget has tackled everything from elegantly tiered cakes for weddings to colorful fondant-topped desserts for a child’s birthday. Underneath the layers of customized decorations lies a base of fluffy cake in a range of flavors. While clients love the fresh flavor of her cream de mint cake or her creamy coconut sponge cake filled with coconut pastry cream, her signature dessert is a white almond cake filled with fresh strawberries and topped with layers of vanilla buttercream and chocolate-dipped strawberries. She can pare down the sizes of her cakes to create dozens of cupcakes, or create cakes using cookies for a fun alternative celebration centerpiece.
Affable waiters emerge from Caffe Fresca's kitchen toting bowls of piping hot soup du jour, homemade desserts, and gourmet entrees. Ten specialty sandwiches tempt guests with fillings such as grilled portobello mushrooms, Genoa salami, and smoked turkey. Fresh seafood platters, steaks and chops, and pasta entrees round out the menu and pair palatably with homemade desserts. A recently remodeled dining area with three-toned tiled flooring, wood tables, and chandeliers encourages diners to linger and sip a libation from the bar or discuss the latest in drinking straw innovations.
Coco Bamboo takes the traditional concept of Italian American pizza joints and whisks it away to a tropical tiki wonderland with a menu full of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and smoothies. Breaded mozzarella sticks ($5) or a small avocado and asparagus salad served with a slice of pita bread and artichoke hearts ($5.75) pad gullets for the impending deluge of grub or errant falling coconuts. Pizza purists can pummel a classic dough disk, such as the minimalist tomato, basil, and pesto-topped margarita (14", $17.25), and palate pushers can nosh on the muffaletta, mounded with ham, pepperoni, salami, mortadella, and olive mix, and also available with a wheat crust (16", $21). Spinach alfredo lasagna ($11.75) or a voodoo smoked house sandwich stacked with chicken or shrimp, barbecue sauce, onions, and melted cheese ($7.75) appeal to carbo-loaders.
Cajun Grill and Bar’s menu teems with New Orleans favorites. Po’ boys occupy a good amount of real estate on the menu: options include catfish, hot sausage patties, N’awlins hot ham and roast beef, or the combo—a mixture of shrimp, oyster, and catfish. Buried deep within the jambalaya is the traditional New Orleans flavor, along with shrimp, chicken, and sausage. The restaurant also serves plenty of seafood platters, including fried shrimp and catfish, and homemade desserts, such as the bread pudding with rum sauce, are a nice capper to every meal.
These purveyors of premium Italian eats buy local ingredients and prepare all dishes from scratch daily, from the sauce to the dough. Baked in a brick oven, the Who-Dat pizza ($12.95 for 14") comes loaded with apple-smoked bacon, meatballs, pepperoni, black olives, and a quizzical expression. Blossoming pie artisans can draw from a rich palette of toppings ($1 each for 14") such as anchovies, sundried tomatoes, and Italian sausage to paint personal masterpieces on plain-pizza canvases ($10.99 for 14"). Meanwhile, the crab-cake linguini ($14.95) is served with your choice of red or white sauce, allowing easy color coordination with wedding dresses and Mountie uniforms. Ensconced in the restaurant’s relaxing, rustic interior, wash down your meal with a cold domestic brew ($2.50), refreshing import or microbrew ($3.50¬–$4), or choice of house wine ($6 per glass, $20 for a bottle).
Fusing classic comfort food with zesty local favorites, the family-owned, 24-hour City Diner has captured the hearts and stomachs of hunger-hounds with a vast and inventive menu. Breakfast delectables such as the big breakfast sandwich ($5.99) and crab cakes Benedict ($10.99), served atop two seasoned polenta cakes, are available around the clock. New Orleans–inspired nourishment culls Crescent City cravings, with the Bottom of the Bowl ($10.99) melding shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat, and a Cajun cream sauce into a seasoned bread bowl. Other spicy seafood swims politely among land creatures in the diner's imaginative hash-brown creations, such as the crawfish and andouille plate ($8.99). Atop the list of burgers is the blue cheeseburger ($8.99), a tongue-tantalizing treat sure to be enjoyed by meat lovers and cannibalistic bovines alike.