Friday, June 10, 2011

Travel Tastes, New Orleans: A Mano

When I spent a week in New Orleans, I tried to stick with the regional cuisine as best I could, stuffing myself to capacity at the festival booths and even taking a 3 hour Cajun cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Despite my best efforts, I somehow found myself  yet again at an Italian restaurant for dinner with my dad before another night in the French Quarter. 

Most Italian restaurants in New Orleans have a Cajun-kick to them; spicy cream sauces, grilled shrimp or sausage. Though A Mano had all these things, it is run by one of the city in the bayou's favorite chefs Adolfo Garcia (Chef & Owner of A Mano, RioMar & La Boca) and Joshua Smith. Inspired by both Latin and Italian flavors, A Mano serves central and southern Italian dishes from local and sustainable purveyors. 

As most of you already know, I am constantly on the look out for authentic Italian food, and A Mano was a welcome surprise! With house-cured guanciale for the Buccatini all'Amatriciana, as well fresh hand-crafted pastas, the trattoria offers diners an open view of their Salumi aging room for salami and sausages. I wish I'd had time to go back and truly sample the menu, which teased caciocavalla Suplie ai Telefono (stuffed rice croquettes) or Orecchiette with tomato-braised goat ragu, olives, mint and pickled peppers.

Alas, I had one night to indulge in my own culinary heaven and I wanted to stick with my New Orleans goal to eat out of my comfort zone. To start, my dad and I split two antipasti: luscious and light ricotta toasts with a peach glaze (left) and hand-cured Calabrese salsiccia with grilled tomatoes and peppers (right). My dad opted for Tagliata di Manzo, grass-fed grilled strip steak  (pictured above) with arugula, balsamic and Parmesan. I asked our waitress what the best choice on the menu was, and she recommended the Squid-Ink Cavatelli with crawfish. 

Though the pasta seemed daunting at first sight, it was a sumptuous pasta dish spiced up with lemon, scallions, garlic and chili. The crawfish was tender, melt-in-your-mouth soft and Cavatelli, which I'd never had before, reminded me of a lighter gnocchi. Everything was cooked to perfection, and the restaurant itself was dark and inviting. Next time I make it over to New Orleans, I'm coming back for more.

 A Mano
 870 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130


Shulie said...

One of the US destinations on my bucket list is New Orleans. Great post! Love the cajun spices and atmosphere. I know I would love it there thank you for your virtual tour!

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