Monday, September 14, 2020

Irene’s Cuisine New Orleans - Reopening Tuesday September 15

Irene Cuisine's Patio

As it barrels toward Mississippi and Alabama, Hurricane Sally is bypassing “Nawlins,” which means New Orleans restaurants will proceed with their mid-September openings..."

Irene’s Cuisine New Orleans - Reopening Tuesday September 15

As it barrels toward Mississippi and Alabama, Hurricane Sally is bypassing “Nawlins,” which means New Orleans restaurants will proceed with their mid-September openings. Pat O' Brien's for instance is reopening. So is Commander's Palace. Commander's recently announced it is thrilled to welcome diners back to its swanky dining rooms, and reminded them to wear masks when they enter, while chit-chatting at other tables, and when going to pee.

At 5:30 on Tuesday September 15, Irene’s Cuisine also opens its dining rooms. Tables are naturally spread apart, which makes the building's historical architecture more noticeable. It's easier to see the dark wood stained fireplace and matching wainscoting. Look closely at the striking columnar architectural details that decorate the bar.

Irene's recently posted images of its brick-floor patio which is enclosed by antique brick walls covered with vines and lush greenery. Vines climb up wooden columns and run across an overhead trellis that holds ceiling fans. Tiny lights hang above. Especially beautiful are the large classical style urns filled with hibiscus and ferns, as well as the sculptural figures that borrow from Roman antiquity and the four-tiered fountain that will make the tinkly-water sounds, typical of French Quarter patios. I can't wait to be on that patio.

As a child in Sicily, Irene DiPietro appreciated the sheer beauty of her grandmother’s herb garden, olive trees and citrus orchard. She watched her grandmother bake fresh bread, and made trips to the wine cellar to carry out bottles of home-made wine. DiPietro opened Irene’s Cuisine on St. Philip street in "da quarter" in 1992, and a few years ago moved to the current location at 529 Bienville Street. After formal culinary training, and gigs in Italy and New Orleans including Commander's Palace, her son Chef Nicholas Scalco joined her.

The Sicilian ancestry that inspired Irene’s culinary passion reaches deep into the past. Irene actually acknowledged this by crediting her “parents and grandparents and their forebears.” Her grandmother’s city is Noto, on the south east coast of Sicily. Noto is not too far from Syracuse, which was colonized by the Greeks in the 8th century BC, about the same time the Phoenicians colonized the western part of Sicily. The ancient Romans arrived in 212 BC. Historical facts like these say a lot about the complexity of the Sicilian culinary tradition that inspired Irene’s food.

As my readers know, I'm not a food critic. But I do enjoy writing about exceptional food and booze. Irene's Lasagna Bolognese is made with ground veal and ricotta cheese and comes topped with fried eggplant medallions. It is outstanding. I also highly recommend the Mussels Marinara, which make me think of the mussels I ate on the south east coast of Sicily. One of the restaurant's most elegant dishes is the Grilled Lamb Chops called Lamb a' la Provence. Perfectly cooked chops sit in a rosemary and port wine sauce.

Irene's Cuisine
529 Bienville Street

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