Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 07:34
Lakeview: 6262 Fleur de Lis Dr. 504-488-0888. Map.
AE MC V
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
No local restaurant enjoys as enthusiastic a crowd of regular customers as Tony Angello's. The supplicants span all age groups and come from all neighborhoods. The draw is an assortment of complete dinners at very attractive prices, with enough unique items to make dining her seem special. The ultimate menu, ordered by three out of four diners, is the "Feed Me, Mr. Tony," with a dozen or so special of the evening in four or five courses.
WHY IT'S GOOD
Tony Angello's purveys the definitive Creole-Italian style of cooking. It's pure New Orleans--you'd never find this stuff cooked this way. That is not a bad thing, but you have to be ready for it. Tony's range of cooking is much wider than you might imagine, and if you become his friend (that doesn't take much--he's a famously warm guy) and express an interest, you'll find yourself eating dishes not often seen anywhere else. New shapes of pasta with new sauces. Tripe. Cucuzzas from somebody's back yard. It's always interesting.
The story that dominates this restaurant's history is that it was inundated well up its roof--at least ten feet deep--after Katrina. The infamous Lakeview levee breach was a few blocks away. Nevertheless, Mr. Tony, on the verge of his eighties, decided he had to repair and reopen. The restaurant was so popular in its early years in Gentilly that when it moved to Lakeview in the early 1970s, for many years its phone number was unlisted.
The large main dining room has low lighting and a conviviality that's not ruined by loudness. (How they accomplish that with such a low ceiling is a mystery.) It's more comfortable than elegant, with an antique quality, even though the entire interior needed to be rebuilt from the floor up after the storm. The wait staff is young but in the thrall of their boss.
»"Feed me, Mr. Tony": a many-small-course sampling of the night's specials.
»Lobster cup (a small casserole).
»Eggplant Tina (like lasagna but eggplant instead of pasta).
Trout Rosa (with crabmeat).
»Lemon ice box pie.
FOR BEST RESULTS
Become a friend of the restaurant by dining on weeknights and opening your palate to new dishes. Avoid weekends, unless you enjoy an extended pre-dinner cocktail hour.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
In the Feed, there will always be at least two stridently mediocre items. It's also a mystery as to why this place often serves pasta twice in a single meal.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +2
- Service +2
- Value +2
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar +1
- Hipness -2
- Local Color +1
- Good for business meetings
- Small private room
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
When my presence was discovered, Mr. Tony was at the table with the hug he's famous for. In his eighties, still going strong. You've got to love the guy. Dale, the long-time dining room manager, came out too. "You want some tripe? We have some pasta puttanesca tonight. No, wait--pasta Milanese. Yeah, Sty. Joseph's day in November. Too bad you didn't come in last week, because we had the last of the home-grown cucuzzas." On and on. This is Tony Angello's. And then came the food. Pasta in a shape I'd never seen before (like little horns), with chunks of beef and a spicy sauce of tomatoes and cream. Oysters Bienville, always good here. The artichoke soup. Last time I ate this was in early 1977, while working up a review. It tasted tonight exactly as it did then. The pasta Milanese (note: second pasta in this dinner) was extraordinarily good, with a thick tomato sauce well tinged with fennel. It came from somebody's back yard, Dale said. Then tripe in a tomato sauce with potatoes. Tender and spicy. I learned that Mr. Tony doesn't eat tripe, he just cooks it. In the spare moments among all this largesse, I noticed something I always do here, but forget until I see it again. The dining room is always dressed up with the presence of at least three or four beautiful young women and their husbands or boyfriends. Also here every night: at least two tables with people you know from the news.
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