Presumably, you’re all rested up from your hike to the Northshore and starting to think about dinner. How about that new Besh place, Domenica, we’ve been hearing so much about? Since it’s in the swank Roosevelt Hotel, why don’t we get a little dressed up? We certainly don’t have to. But why not? Before dinner, let’s stop in for a cocktail at the Sazerac Bar, also in the Roosevelt Hotel.
It is a beautiful, art-deco room, with an interesting history. Okay, on a recent trip there, my husband and I asked the bartender for the full story, and it turns out that it has been embellished for dramatic effect. But, anyway, the story goes: back in the forties, when women still weren’t allowed to drink in most bars in New Orleans, a bunch of women stormed the Sazerac Bar and demanded their right to drink in public. Yes, in New Orleans, feminism was fought on the drinking front. Are you really surprised? Now, New Orleans women have created a tradition of commemorating that event, on September 25ths, by getting all dolled up in forties dress and having afternoon drinks at the Sazerac. So, when you’re there, obviously, it makes sense to get a Sazerac. They also do a Ramos Gin Fizz, very well, I might add. You’re only having one here though. Definitely hotel prices.
Now, walk about ten steps and get seated at Domenica. We went on a weeknight and were easily seated without a reservation–the place is huge–but it filled up shortly thereafter. This, being the weekend, I’d be safe and make a reservation. So, Domenica, which is Italian for Sunday, has a very hip menu. First, they have “pizze,” which my friend Emily and my server assured me was no ordinary pizza, and that I had to get one. Apparently the pizza oven they have is the only one of it’s kind, and they had to, like, take apart the building to get it in there, and, oh, I don’t remember what else, but I was sold.
We opted for the Wild Mushroom Fontina, Bacon and Fried Egg pizza ($13). And it was delicious. The pizza had a distinctive smokiness, imbued by the super-special oven. And I am a sucker for anything topped with an egg that breaks. Problem was, we were full, and there was so much more that we wanted to try! The pizza was bigger than we thought, so I would recommend a lunch trip there for pizza. And for dinner, save yourself for the rest of the menu. Next they have Salumi & Formaggi (house-cured meats and cheeses). The Affettati Misti ($25) is an ample assortment of the chef’s selection. The day we were the cheese was Verde Capra (young goat’s milk blue) and Ubriaco al prosecco (hard, cow’s milk), the meat was duck liver prosciutto (!), regular prosciutto, and then some sort of meat with pistachios in it, like a super-fancy version of olive loaf. Then, on the side, were three sweet relishes and three savory; particularly memorable was a wasabi candied fruit relish. All was fantastic. Again, so full, and there’s so much more! The rest of the menu is separated into Antipasti (appetizers), Primi (pasta first courses), and Secondi (meat and fish entrees). The Antipasti and Primi dishes come in small and large servings, which is nice. So, ultimately, you have free reign to create whatever meal you want. We ordered one more thing, stunningly good, but we were only able to eat two bites. We got the small portion of Stracci [a hand-torn pasta with oxtail ragout and fried chicken livers ($11)]. So, the solution would be to go to Domenica many times. Have a pizza for lunch. Go back and have an early supper of Anitpasti small plates. Another time, have a cheese board and some Stracci, etc.
We’re going to stick with this Italian theme. But, we’re going to have to make choices. I know, I know, we just learned at Domenica that we don’t know what to do with such freedom. But let’s try. So, we could go high-brow or medium-brow. First choice, high-brow. Over at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre there are still tickets for tonight’s performance of Verdi’s requiem, in Latin. They range from $55 to a lot more than I can afford. 8pm.
Or, also at 8pm, is The Front Man, an original musical about organized crime and the music business, by local composer Todd Souvignier. It’s playing at The Backyard Ballroom, a very DIY venue that is literally in somebody’s backyard in the Bywater ($25).