It’s been a monumental year for New Orleans dining, with restaurants like Dakar NOLA, MaMou, and Hungry Eyes among those recognized as some of the best new establishments in the country. As the end of 2023 approaches, several highly-anticipated restaurants have worked diligently to open their doors before the New Year, bringing a sexy, Parisian-inspired lounge to the Warehouse District, the area’s first cheese wheel pasta cart to Old Metairie, and expertly-crafted Neapolitan pizza to Algiers Point. Learn more about these three exciting restaurant openings — Jolie, Tana, and Nighthawk Napoletana — below.
324 Julia Street, Warehouse District
A stylish new lounge and restaurant landed in the Warehouse District last week, opened by a trio of British-born restaurateurs (Dallas-based brothers Chris and Mark Beardon and Andrew Duncan in New Orleans). They’ve recruited a talented set of local tastemakers for Jolie’s food and drink, an exciting group that includes Kiah Darion from Bar Marilou and Will Lester from Longway Tavern on the drinks side, and for food, Indigo “Soul” Martin, who formerly ran his pop-up Indigo Soul Cuisine, and Adrian Martinez, who worked as chef de cuisine at Sylvain.
Jolie has transformed a distinctly sports bar-like space (World of Beer) into an unrecognizable, furniture and carpet-laden lounge with a sexy, old-world European feel. The food, drinks, and entertainment are all designed to be equally transportive, with live music, DJs, and a monthly “Cirque de Jolie” lineup of performers including sword swallowers and acrobats. Extravagant cocktails utilize tools like atomizers, eye droppers, and blow torches, occasionally incorporating a dash of glitter or other accouterments — Jolie’s version of a French 75 comes with a small baggie attached to the glass rim, filled with Pop Rocks to be dissolved in the bubbly drink. The food menu is mostly made of shareable plates with a French flair, like escargot, foie gras toast, tempura frog legs, bone marrow, and beef carpaccio.
Jolie is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
2929 Metairie Road, Old Metairie
Tana is the third restaurant from the MoPho and Maypop team, an acclaimed set of New Orleans restaurants owned by chef Michael Gulotta and Jeffrey Bybee. It’s the culmination of an idea that began as a pop-up inside a now-closed Mid-City bar (Treo) serving Sicilian-style dishes. The new incarnation of Tana is a vast expansion on that original kitchen — a sprawling, 5,000-square-foot restaurant with a bar and lounge area in Old Metairie, a massive new build along an ever-developing Metairie Road.
Unlike MoPho and Maypop, which focus on Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian influences, Tana is an ode to Gulotta’s Sicilian heritage. It incorporates the Italian Riviera cuisine of Liguria, where Gulotta once trained, for a large, chop house-style menu of small plates like meatballs, savory zeppole, arancini, and muffuletta-esque stuffed focaccia; salads, garlic and artichoke soup, and bacon and oyster stew; and large plates like veal marsala, pork chop parmesan, and a tomahawk rib-eye. Then there’s the pasta, a focal point of both the menu — there are nine pasta dishes — and the restaurant space itself. A pasta-making station takes center stage in the dining room, and a cheese wheel-equipped pasta cart arrives tableside for orders of tagliatelle alla ruota, likely marking the area’s only opportunity to try trendy cheese wheel pasta.
Tana, which Bybee describes as “something you’d find in Miami, Chicago, or New York, but with Old Metairie ambiance,” is open Wednesday through Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
141 Delaronde Street, Algiers Point
The former home of a popular Westbank pizzeria, Tavolino, has been revived by Adrian Chelette, a local chef with a long background making standout pizza in New Orleans. Chelette, who most recently manned the pizza oven at Seventh Ward hotspot Margot’s following his time as co-owner at Ancora Pizza, has opened Nighthawk Napoletana in partnership with the team behind popular local taco hut Barracuda (owners Brett Jones and Bryson Aust have locations Uptown and in Algiers Point).
Nighthawk has been in the works since just the summer, making for a quick, simple but modern transformation of its predecessor — there’s a large wood-burning pizza oven flanked by a dining counter, a bar, a small covered patio, and a narrow dining room made up of four-top tables covered with classic red and white checkered tablecloths. Still in its soft opening stage, the restaurant’s menu remains succinct — eight sourdough Neapolitan-style pizzas, a few salads, and small plates like meatballs and arancini.
Nighthawk Napoletana is currently open Thursday through Monday from 4 to 10 p.m.