Sheep Ricotta Gnocchi
777 Bienville St., (504) 553-2277
These days we can count on gnocchi being hand-made at most upscale eateries, though the sheep ricotta gnocchi ($29) at this luxe French Quarter restaurant set the bar a good bit higher. The dumplings are large, thumb-sized ovals with a texture that seems to vanish on the tongue but a lush, creamy, fresh-milk flavor that pours over the palate.
Hunks of lobster tail meat are interspersed between them, and while the shellfish should be the star ingredient the fact that the simple gnocchi themselves steal the show says it all.
2164 Milton St., (504) 949-2210
If your memories of New Orleans barbecue go back past Hurricane Katrina, you may recall H&P Bar B-Q Masters, a longtime fixture the Robertson family ran on Elysian Fields Avenue. The place didn’t look like much, but it had its following, especially for its way with beef ribs. While H&P didn’t reopen after Katrina, in 2012 another branch of the family started Bar-B-Q Kings on a Gentilly side street and brought back many of the old recipes.
That includes beef ribs ($9.99) the size of hatchets. They’re smoked with charcoal, though the distinctive flavor comes from a thick, slightly sweet sauce that gels to the surface of the chewy meat for something like a candied texture. Try the mac and cheese with elbow noodles and bits of fresh jalapéno as a side.
527 Julia St., (504) 875-4132
The Rico sandwich ($9) is a good introduction to the endearingly original approach to tropical flavors at this small, charismatic Warehouse District cafe. It’s loosely based on the jibarito sandwich, a Puerto Rican specialty with fried plantain cakes in place of bread, though this one is an open-faced affair surrounded by greens that looks much more like a salad.
You’ll want a knife and fork to go after the topping of smoked pulled pork (or a vegan “mock meat” alternative), chunky salsa and thin, spicy and tangy dressing. In fact it’s hard to call it a sandwich, but the Rico is an easy call for a light lunch.