Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LAGabriele Bonci. He’s from Rome. Has a popular pizza place there. Set his sights on the US market, and curiously, the place he chose to debut his concept was Chicago, arguably a population that has very strong opinions about their pizza. He opened one, then another. Added New Orleans. Next up, I think I heard is Miami.

His concept is a “reinvention” of the pizza.  He’s focused on local ingredients and at any one time during the day has 12-15 different pizzas in the showcase.

You point, they point back as a way of inquiring how large of a slice you want of these rectangular pies in the display.  Give a nod, they nod, they weigh it (his pies are sold by the pound),  pay (strictly a non-cash operation, btw), they finish your selection in the oven for a few, reslice into bite-size morsels, call your name.

You fetch. You eat.

The Details

The crust is “thick” by American standards, but light and airy, resembling focaccia. The tomato sauce is pure, and the cheese is ample.  I tried two different kinds (pictured) a meatball, and onion and provolone. The latter was the better of the two.  There weren’t a whole lot of meat selections when I was in the New Orleans store.  I was opening for some spicy salami, or perhaps prosciutto, and the like.

But meatball was it, and the topping was actually bits of meatball as if they had chopped a ball into pieces or actually made them mini-ball size. The flavor was fine, but I’m of the school that cooks meatballs directly in the sauce, leaving a soft, crumbly texture.  Bonci appears to be from the meatball school of cooking separately,  baked in the oven until the outside is crispy/crunchy.  Not my thing.

Onion/provolone was boldly flavorful.  Though I missed a helping of processed pork products as we American pie eaters are used to expecting, it was quite good.

Another downside (for me)?  Kinda spendy.  As pictured,  $14 worth of pizza.

BTW, don’t be surprised to see fruit as a topping.  Beyond pineapple. Which doesn’t belong on pizza in any case.  Nor does chicken.

I spend a lot of time in Chicago and had always meant to get into his first U.S. outlet, but it’s an inconvenient location for me.  So it was just a coincidence that my introduction to Bonci (bon-chee) happened in New Orleans.

I didn’t find it exceptional enough to merit a return, especially because I have so many favorites in Chicago.  But you should try it. Especially as traveling to Italy seems to be out of the picture for the time being.

Oh yeah, if $110 + for a pizza doesn’t seem unreasonable to you,  they ship.

Locations and timesPhoto gallery.


Bonci Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Bonci Pizza Review New Orleans LA

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

National WWII Museum Review New Orleans

National WWII Museum Review New OrleansBring tissues.  Lots of them.  If you have any heart at all, you will cry at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.  Odd, I lived in New Orleans, and never visited.  It opened in June of 2000 at the “National D-Day Museum” conceived by two local scholars, Stephen E. Ambrose and Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhDs.

An act of Congress in 2004 designated the facility as “America’s National WWII Museum.”  Comprised of exhibits detailing the operations in both the European and Pacific theaters, as well as related activity on the homefront, the museum is housed in multiple specially built structures, and the staging of the exhibits goes way beyond what most are used to seeing in historical museums, with lifesize dioramas, airplanes and vehicles, professionally made videos with historical coverage and much more.

Inside the Campus

After paying your admission, you start your self-guided (guided are also available) tour by being handed a plastic card with a dog tag number on it.  National WWII Museum Review New OrleansEach number represents the story of a single person from the war, including members of the allied and axis forces, POWs, internees in prison camps both overseas in the US.  You can swipe your card at many stations throughout the museum to get updates on “your person,” and review it when at home at a special website, “The Dog Tag Experience.”   Myh assigned person was Charlotte Weiss, a member of a Jewish family in Teresva, Czechoslovakia.

It’s a lot of ground to cover, but the museum is well planned, with benches, washrooms and water fountains throughout if you need a break.  I’m personally not much of museum person (except for dinosaurs and science) and I spent over four hours there and could have easily extended the visit.

Eats and Such

Need a break in the middle? Have a bite to eat or an adult beverage at the “American Sector” cafe, with a complete lunch and dinner menu available.  Local and traditional American favorites are available, sandwiches and entrees, as well as appetizers, salads and a brunch menu on weekends.  Lighter fare and sweets area available at Jeri Nims Soda Shop.  BB’s Stage Door Canteen offers live music of the era on weekends (additional charge), as well as cuisine and beverages for a pre-dinner show if one is so inclined.


At New Orleans Lake Ponchartrain, book a ride on fully reserved PT Boat from WWII.  Built in New Orleans by Higgins Industries, the patrol-torpedo (PT) boat PT-305 was a critical asset for the US Navy during World War II, serving in European waters from 1944 to the end of the war. The ship served many other uses after the war and was found festering in dry dock in Houston and acquired by the museum in 2007.  Tours only are offered Wed, Thur, Fri, and Sun at various times.  Rides are Saturdays only, children under 12 not permitted.  Advance purchase of tickets for rides is highly recommended.  A short video on the restoration effort is below.


Besides buying admission tickets, there are lots of ways to financially support this worthy endeavor, including straight out donations, annual memberships, or sponsoring a “brick” to honor a loved one who served.  Consider a gift to the museum.






National WWII Museum Review New Orleans







High Hat Cafe Review – New Orleans

High Hat Review New Orleans

The Salad

The High Hat Cafe, in uptown New Orleans, has earned a rep for serving quality Louisiana and Mississippi Delta cuisine; the latter is not a reference to the river really, by the way, but rather a geographical stretch within the state of Mississippi.  Oh for goodness sakes, here.  Take a vacation in the delta if you’re interested in the history of jazz.

The term “High Hat” can mean several things in English, including snobbery, or a set of cymbals in a drum kit.  No telling what the owner had in mind when naming this eatery.

This three year old joint in most known for its fried chicken, served on a plate as a special on Tuesday nights (be prepared to wait in line, I was cautioned), but it turns out the chicken is available most anytime, either as an add-on, like with Monday nite’s red beans, or at other times with gentle cajoling.

I went for the “High Hat Burger” and as I have been on a winning streak with fabulous burgers in NOLA recently (TruBurger, Company, District), I was bound / overdue to run into one that was ho hum.

Using Certified Angus beef for the patty (why don’t chefs know that term really doesn’t mean anything?) and slather with pimento cheese, this one had a lot of promise, but fell flat, and quickly.

Pimento cheese is sometimes referred to as “the caviar of the south,” can be made smooth or chunky, and generally includes cheddar, mayo or cream cheese, pimentos, salt/pepper, maybe hot sauce. Try it on a grilled cheese.  Velveeta or similar can sometimes be substituted for the cheddar.

Unfortunately, High Hat’s version falls flat, and is rather flavorless, and was perched atop a burger patty cooked a full 10 minutes past my requested medium rare.  For that matter, despite the restaurant being less  than half full, it took a damned long time to be served.  The burger does have a nice crust from the flat top.

There was also gumbo and oyster/bacon soup at the table, both were served tepid, which wasn’t all that exciting, the oyster was a cream soup, but too thin.  The restaurant’s version of a “Wedge” salad was pretty sad overall, but they did manage to score some very nice tomatoes.

The highlight of the meal was the french fries, good enough to get a second order for the table.

In a word, I was underwhelmed.  You might not be.  Here’s the High Hat menu.

High Hat Review New Orleans



High Hat Review New Orleans

High Hat Burger

High Hat Café on Urbanspoon
High Hat Cafe Review

New Orleans, LA – Cafe Degas Review

(From our archives) I’ve intentionally shied away from the Café Degas, because it’s one of those places that many natives find absolutely thrilling. That’s usually my first clue to avoid it like the plague.

I frequently find that my view of “outstanding” varies widely from my native friends, but that’s largely due to the fact I’ve been exposed to restaurants outside of the area, and have a base of comparison. When my native buddies talk about a local restaurant as “outstanding,” I realize it is because they are comparing it to the Tiffin Inn.

Desperate to find something nice to say about the Café Degas, I come up empty. It is tied with my visit to the Café Adelaide a few weeks ago, for worst overall dining experience in New Orleans.

We could start with parking, but there is none. At that corner of Esplanade, with Whole Foods and a few other shops, parking is non-existent. The Café could well use a valet service, but service doesn’t seem part of their vocabulary.

I had made a reservation and arrived promptly on time. One enters the Café thru the bar, and walking into that space, four employees were busy talking about everything under the sun, but none asked if they could help me. I wandered into the dining room alone, where a single waiter was waiting on the one couple that had arrived before me. The waiter DID ask if he could help me, but it was more the kind of “are you lost” type of inquiry. I told him I had a reservation, and he told me to go back up front and see the hostess. She was nowhere to be found, so I returned to the dining room, and the waiter did show me to a table.

The place did fill up over the course of the next few hours, and “fill up” is an understatement, as they have crammed far too many tables into the small space, claiming an “authentic French bistro” ambiance. The owners and I must have visited different bistros during our journeys to France. Certainly the French buy more comfortable chairs, anyway, so that if space is at a premium, at least your personal space is enjoyable. Dega’s chairs are patio furniture.

The menu (“French with a Creole accent”) (geez, why does EVERYTHING have to have a “Creole accent?” – why can’t one get simple classical French cuisine in this town?) is short, with a few nightly specials.

As restaurants, like everyone else, struggle with increased energy and supply costs, they look to cut costs, and Café Degas has done it on two fronts – wait staff and ingredients.

In short, the service was lousy, the food worse.

The house salad with Dijon vinaigrette was bad enough (btw, add gorgonzola for a buck extra); I ordered “parmesan encrusted veal with caper lemon butter” for an entrée, and the first bite cried out “chicken fried steak!”

Some portions of the meat were inedible.

Service was nearly non-existent, again, probably due to cut backs, the room is noisy and crowded, and a peculiarity with the air conditioning causes the vents to drip water on diners. A woman at the table next to me, having had enough to the drips alternating hitting her plate or her shoulder, asked the waiter to do something about it. He asked her to stand up, whereupon he stood on her chair and wiped the grill above her with a towel.

Let’s not talk about what color the towel was after a single wipe.

Or the look in her eyes as she glanced at the chair that she was supposed to sit back down on.

Café Degas is a disaster. Another in a series.

The good thing about the evening? I got to leave at the end.

Café Degas on Urbanspoon


Cafe Degas Review

New Orleans – St. Charles Tavern Review

For as crazy as New Orleans can get, as long as I lived there, it was never a late night dining town.  Having exhausted all your energy in the Quarter, and not in the mood for an overpriced slice of pizza, one was left with few choices for satisfying cuisine.  I love diners, and my favorite at the time was called the Hummingbird, had been there forever, closed to make room for a project that never happened.

One around the clock outpost is the St. Charles Tavern, just up St. Charles Avenue from the Central Business District, not a terribly long cab ride from the Quarter.

The St. Charles serves cajun and creole specialties along with American diner food anytime of day or night you’re in the mood.  I used to frequent it quite often on my late night prowls of the Big Easy.

Stopped in during the daylight this trip, and grabbed half a muffaletta, which was excellent.  Guess they were closed for awhile, a little remodeling, maybe new owners.  Looking at their website, I see they feature Charmaine Neville Wednesday nights (she’s a Neville sister) and if you’ve never seen here on your trips to the Crescent City, you should try and take in a show.

St. Charles Tavern Menu (pdf)

 St Charles Tavern Review




St. Charles Tavern on Urbanspoon




st charles tavern reviews

New Orleans – Liuzzas Review

Luizzas Review

Liuzzas Original Location

Too often, visitors to the Big Easy miss out on many of the best places to dine in the Crescent City.

I guess you could probably say this about most travel destinations; in the Crescent City, visitors tend to get “stuck” in the French Quarter or nearby Garden District and miss out on the neighborhood dining experience.

Not that there is anything wrong with what is available in either of those two locales, it’s just that New Orleans has so much more to offer when you get out and about.

Not far from the Quarter, Liuzza’s has been operating and serving local favorites since 1947.  In a city where some eateries have been open for way over a century, one that is only approaching 70 might not seem like such a big deal, but in most US cities other than New Orleans, a seventy year old restaurant is a big deal.

Liuzza’s menu is straightforward New Orleans, a combination of Creole and Cajun cuisines, with a little Italian mixed in. Luizza’s has a second location, “Liuzzas By the Track”, which is not far from Burgerdogboy daughter’s domicile, and near the fairgrounds/racetrack where the annual fete of JazzFest takes place (starts in two weeks!)  The “Jazz” part of the name is kind of misleading, as every year during the two week extravaganza, you’ll also have the opportunity to hear the biggest stars in the history of rock, as well.

Anyway, the spawn and I hit Liuzza’s for a quick lunch, and as always, it was superb. She went with the soup of the day, which was Turtle, and excellent, and I opted for a fried shrimp po-boy, which was absolutely perfect at every level.  We hastily decided to split an order of fries, and that was over ordering, as it turned out. For the uninitiated, a “Po Boy” is a New Orleans creation, crunchy French bread (only the local brands will suffice), stuffed with your choice of protein, fried or broiled, usually seafood like shrimp, oysters, catfish – but there are also ham, and roast beef variations. Your server will ask if you want it “dressed” or you can volunteer this information – it means with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo. Take it all, some or none. The height of decadence would be a po boy that includes your choice of meat, with french fries piled in there, too, and the entire sandwich is dipped in batter and deep fried. Believe it. It does happen!

If you’re planning on hitting New Orleans, it’s worth a quick cab ride to either location to have some great grub, and dine with the locals, who can be pretty entertaining all on their own!  Open Monday through Saturday from 11A – 7P.

Luizza's Review

Fried shrimp poboy

Liuzza's by the Track on Urbanspoon
Liuzzas Review

Ponchatoula, LA – And Middendorfs Restaurant

About 40 miles north of New Orleans,  Ponchatoula is a city of about 5,000 souls in Tangipahoa Parish. Established in the early 1800s as a logging camp, the town today is a regional commerce center for the Parish, and home to Louisiana’s second largest festival (after Mardi Gras), the Ponchatoula Strawberry Fest, which takes place in early April.

The town also describes itself as “the antique capital of America” and it does seem to have its fair share of shops of that ilk, and prices are very reasonable.

The local produce market sells a wide variety of products grown in the area, including the strawberries, along with preserves and various canned fruits and vegetables.

It’s worth a drive if you’re visiting the Crescent City, and enroute or on the way back, take in a meal at Middendorf’s, 10 miles south of Ponchatoula on I-55.  Famous for crispy thin sliced strips of catfish, your lunch of dinner options include a wide variety of local seafood, steaks, and chicken.  Start out with a cup of  gumbo, turtle soup, or a dozen fresh oysters.

Louisiana seafood is fresher than nearly anything you’ve ever eaten, and enjoying it on the waterside dock  overlooking a back bay of Lake Ponchatrain, at Middendorf’s makes it twice as tasty.



2009 dining guide
Middendorfs Restaurant

Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Do You Know What It’s Like to Miss New Orleans?

Happy Mardi Gras and let the good times roll!

New Orleans is a magical place for many different reasons, whether your fascination lies in the incredible culinary offerings, the historical buildings of the French Quarter or the stately manses of the Garden District. Jazz? Blues? Street performers? Cultural attractions?  The mighty Mississippi?  The “Crescent City” has something for everyone.

Summoning up a memory of walking in front of the nearly 300 year old St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, as the fog rolls in on a sultry night and the tops of the buildings, trees and lampposts disappear from site, one gets the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket of sensual pleasure.

You made your way to one of the ubiquitous coffee shops and enjoyed the only beverage that seemed appropriate for the location and  weather, a cafe au lait on ice.

Months later, having returned from your vacation, you hear Billie Holiday on the radio crooning her version of “Do You Know What It’s Like to Miss New Orleans?” and suddenly you do. You attempt to recapture the feeling of that night by struggling to make a New Orleans style coffee at home. You fail miserably. Your glass contains a bitter brew, not the deep flavorful smooth inky coffee of New Orleans.

Fortunately, now there’s a solution, thanks to the late inventor Philip McCrory, who in 1989 perfected a large quantity method of duplicating the ‘trick’ so many New Orleans coffee shops use in very small batches to get that special taste – cool brewing. Brewing freshly-roasted batches of beans without heat for a smooth and non-acidic coffee, served hot or cold.

The result is CoolBrew, a coffee concentrate that lets you make the perfect cup or pot every time. Arriving in a unique bottle that inhibits air contact with the brew, simply squeeze an ounce of CoolBrew into your cup and top with cold or hot water. Add your favorite sweetener or dairy product if you like.

If you enjoy flavored coffees, CoolBrew has a something for you, as well, including Mocha, Vanilla, Hazelnut, and, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, new Chocolate Almond. And yes, there’s a Decaf too.

You don’t have to “know what it’s like to miss New Orleans” with CoolBrew, available at these retailers , or shipped directly to your house from CoolBrew’s site.

Invite me over and I’ll say “I bet I can tell you where you got dat coffee!”

Here’s a few idea starters for other ways to use CoolBrew.

CoolBrew Coffee



(CoolBrew furnished samples for this taste test).

Cool Brew reviews

New Orleans, LA – Casamento’s

I love old-timey places that have survived and thrived over the years, and certainly Casamento’s fits that description.  The consummate oyster restaurant in New Orleans, it’s been open continuously since 1919.  Except when they close every June, July, and August, much to the dismay of locals, who eagerly await it’s reopening every year.

With a menu long on locavore supplies and tradition, Casamento’s dishes out raw oysters ($11 a dozen in 2013), and fried seafood plates and “loafs”, or poboys sandwiches, using their own special bread, and eschewing local tradition of French bread for poboys.

While the joint had been the setting and backdrop for numerous movies and television shows over the years, it’s the inner workings, the kitchen, that make this restaurant shine.   Try the gumbo, some of the area’s best, as are the soft shelled crabs.   That’s what Burgerdogdaughter had the other day when we dropped in.

I went with a catfish poboy, as it’s nearly impossible to be able to afford catfish in Portland, OR, where I reside.   Down these parts, it’s dirt cheap and delicious.

We split a dozen raw oysters to start.

Casamento’s should be on every tourist’s list of ‘must stops’ in the Big Easy.  Be prepared to wait for a table, and it’s cash only.  Menu.

Casamento's Catfish Po Boy

Catfish Loaf

Casamento's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

My Annual Post – Mardi Gras Poem

Twas the night before Mardi Gras, and all through the burb,
Denizens were in place to see the parades, even lining the curb;
The beads were hung from the floats with care,
In anticipation of the throngs that would soon be there;
The children were nestled all snug in the car,
Dreaming of doubloons tossed from afar;
Mamma in her toga, and me in my mask,
I was all tuckered out from my bead buying task.

When out in the street there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my perch to see what was the matter.
Away to the neutral ground I flew like flash,
Tripped over the Singleton sign and fell face down in the trash.
The sun was just rising on the St. Charles line
Giving the impression parade day would be fine.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the homeowner in his robe, his shouting so crass,
Saying, ”Hey, you buddy, get the hell off my grass!

The curmudgeonly old man, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he was a tourist, he acted like such a dick,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called me some name;
It was obvious to me, he didn’t understand the game.
I looked around before leaving, to see what was the matter
But no I hadn’t forgotten anything, Not even my ladder.
I gathered my things, and got ready to view
The amazing display that would be put on by the Krewe.

I was ready as ready, me, Mr. Jimmy Crackcorn
I even had fresh double A’s, to use in my bullhorn.
I had borrowed a kid from some neighbor named Jim
So I could point to the toddler and say, “Hey the throws are for him!”
We worked all night on the “We’re from…” signs
Many places listed, the more exotic the better
After seeing all those, will they guess we’re from Kenner?
Continuing my mental tick list of things, forgetting the old coot,
Yep, I had my umbrella and fishnets, to help catch the loot.

I was stuffed with King cake, the tasty treat screamed “eat us”
I’d eat much more, if the toy didn’t look like a fetus.
The middles are not plain, but now stuffed with a filling
Since McKensies went bankrupt, small bakers made a killing.

I heard the music, the parade was near
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
Floats so lovely, adorned in things so bold
And trimmed of course in green, purple, and gold.
“I can’t get enough!” I thought, so I recounted them all
“Now, Zulu! now, Rex! Now, Endymion and Proteus!

To the end of St. Charles! to the top of Canal!

Then fade away! fade away! fade away all!”

“Damn I’m thirsty,” I thought, as I took a swig of my booze
“I hope I don’t have to pee before I see all of the Krewes!”
And then he appeared, the King of the Day,
He laughed and he chortled, and got ready to play.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Reached in his sack, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, skyward went the throws!

The beads, candy and toys all flew like rain,
Me and ma were so drunk, we was feelin’ no pain.
The kids were getting trampled, ordinarily a horror
But not today, cause someone nearby was surely a lawyer!
The crowds were noisy, their hearts were a thumpin’,
As they cried in unison, “Hey Mister, throw me sumpin!”

Copyright BurgerDogboy, 1/13/2002

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