Rizzuto's Ristorante and Chop House opened in the former home of “intensely local New Orleans institution” Tony Angello’s Ristorante in Lakeview on June 30, reports Ian McNulty. The team behind the new Rizzuto’s also runs Amici on Magazine Street (coal-fired pizzas) and Creole Carre on Bourbon Street. Former chef from Amici, Jason Caronna, helms the new kitchen.
Tony Angello’s, which had been around for over four decades, was so well-loved that the Rizzuto’s team had to approach the new restaurant very carefully. According to the report, they kept a “few dishes that reference the old Tony Angello’s repertoire” on the menu, but not any that they felt they could not execute as well as their predecessor. The ones that made the cut are “brisket and tomato salad, crab gravy, marinated mushrooms and a version of eggplant Tina, a stack of breaded eggplant called eggplant Valentina.” The restaurant’s layout hasn’t changed, but the renovation made it brighter.
There are also many changes that give this new restaurant its own identity. Look for menu items like “marsala and piccata (chicken or veal), braciole and chicken scarpariello, roasted with sausage and potatoes...oyster pasta and linguine with clams and pappardelle with sausage and rabe or Wagyu Bolognese...jumbo tortellini stuffed with beef short rib under a bright marinara.” Also look for steaks with “blue cheese, béarnaise or ammoglio, a chunky, garlicky tomato sauceblue cheese, béarnaise or ammoglio, a chunky, garlicky tomato sauce.”
“‘We can’t replace Tony Angello’s and what it meant to people. We respect it just as much as everyone else, but we’re not Tony Angello’s, this is Rizzuto’s and we’ll show people what that means,’” Mandi Sumera, manager of Rizzuto’s Ristorante and Chop House, said in the Advocate report. [ADVOCATE]
“We can’t replace Tony Angello’s and what it meant to people,” said Mandi Sumera, manager of Rizzuto’s Ristorante & Chop House. “We respect it just as much as everyone else, but we’re not Tony Angello’s, this is Rizzuto’s and we’ll show people what that means.”
After an opening-night visit, I’d say what that means is a mid-range Italian restaurant (most non-steak entrees are under $20) with an upscale setting that adds a roster of steaks and chops to the mix.
That’s not the same as Tony Angello’s, though it’s not exactly a radical departure either. That means the job ahead here for the Rizzuto family and their crew will be to make a new identity for a restaurant that will inevitably be up for comparison to the old one.
One of the back dining rooms is now named for the Krewe of Pygmalion. Other rooms are named for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. The small, wood-lined Wine Room remains mostly the same. The bar is now more sleek, and down at the end of its black marble length there’s a cigar counter to supply a post-dinner smoke out on the porch.
This is a major new restaurant, especially for Lakeview, where most new additions have been casual eateries.
As Rizzuto’s gets rolling, it should be assessed on its own merits. But of course it won’t. This is New Orleans, where memories of meals and the people and settings around them run deep. Rizzuto’s didn’t get the recipes from the old Tony Angello’s, but it did inherit a restaurant full of memories. And, at least on the first visit, many will be bringing these along even as the next course is set.
6262 Fleur De Lis Drive, 504-300-1804
Tue.-Thu. 5-10 pm; Fri. 11 am–3 pm; 5-10 pm; Sat. 5-10 pm; Sun. 11 am-8 pm
Happy hour Tue.-Fri., 4-6 p.m.
Note: the restaurant is closed July 4