There’s a joke among my friends, persistent but no longer very funny after fifteen years, that I’ll eat in only one New Orleans restaurant. It’s not true—I’ll eat anywhere, especially in New Orleans. But if you know The Pizza Kitchen, the one in the Quarter between the old federal mint and the French Market, you might believe it.
Is it the food? Yes and no. The food is good: wood-oven baked, thin crust gourmet pizzas; an award-winning Caesar salad; surprising pasta dishes; all with a generous dollop of local ingredients, like andouille sausage and crawfish (and even once, briefly, nutra-rat!) The menu is wide and diverse, and most entrees slide in under $11.00 in a town where it’s possible to pay any price for a plate of food.
But for all that, LPK is a local franchise. We have one here in Baton Rouge, and there are several in New Orleans. I’ve sampled a number of locations and found them consistently good. What makes the French Quarter location special is, well, the French Quarter.
Well-settled into it’s corner spot, this one always seems wide open and inviting. Tall, shuttered windows let light and air flow on pleasant afternoons (there are many, but none in summer), and from the short line that forms after 8PM, one can see past diners to the vendors of the French Market packing up their baubles.
Despite proximity to busy tourist paths, the clientele most nights is a local mix. Families with small children feel welcome as do drag queens, musicians, service industry employees and sometimes falconers. My friend Jenn kicks her husband’s shins whenever he comments on the local color, which he always does and always with deep appreciation. Another old joke between us: We are all about equally strange.
So what prompts this note? Reid spotted this story by LA Times staff writer Thomas S. Mulligan. I knew my favorite New Orleans eatery had reopened, but I was pleased to see someone else noticed. I hope this doesn’t mean I’ll have to wait now for a table!