With all of the excellent restaurants and Cajun/Creole food to eat in New Orleans, one would have to ask, “why Italian?”
It all started with a desire to eat some of the excellent cuisine available in New Orleans and, being mostly burned out on jambalaya, we wanted something extraordinary to cap our final night in New Orleans. Eyeballing one restaurant that had a very good California/Italian Chef, classically trained in France and other parts of Europe that married classic Italian cuisine with the local New Orleans inspired French, Spanish and African cuisines. Then the fun began, trying to get all of the couples in our party to agree on an agenda for the evening and realizing that any “good” restaurant required advanced reservations or face a lengthy wait in line for an open table. That proved to be rather impossible for a group of six and our pursuit of that restaurant ended up empty. So the wife and I ventured out on our own into the warehouse district away from the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Sophia Nola was a last minute decision and Open Table reservation request as this place also proved to be difficult getting a table. Luckily, we were a ten minute walk to make our reservations that started in five minutes, so we decided to leave our group to their unsophisticated burger in the lobby night, and head out the door and up the street about five blocks from where we were staying on Canal Street.
Walking into the warehouse district caught us holding our belongings a little closer and cordially allowing those walking upon us to pass us by as we headed up the street. We found the new (about 4 months) Sophia Nola’s tables along Julia St. and went inside to find a wonderfully adorned eatery that had pictures and memorabilia of Sophia Loren scattered about. We waited about 3 minutes for our (mostly all) ‘elevated seating’ table as I faced the wall, and the wife shared a common bench along that wall, but facing the action. Perhaps that’s why I don’t remember so many specifics about the place except the fine cuisine that was served. Occasionally I would glance around in between the excellent service and try to peak at what people had ordered and the memorabilia. I did catch their beautifully mosaic’d wood burning pizza oven and the warm industrial lighting; even the bathroom was wonderfully decorated with a collage of Sophia Loren’s movie mementos and beautiful photographs.
Sophia Nola’s seasonal menu was simple. Pizza, cocktails and wine seemed to be popular as did some of their pasta dishes as there were many kids eating along with parents and other adults. The music selection was more inviting to the Chef and staff, instead of along the lines of elegant, as the classic rock played from the good sound system. Our order was recommended from the server as being a great combination so I captured the Italian moment by also ordering her recommended glass of wine.
Our dinner this evening started with the delicious Winter Citrus Salad that had a house-made Burrata, prosciutto and a house-blend of toasted seeds and nuts for a wonderful crunchy element. Our Cacio e Pepe and very large head-on Gulf Shrimp that came with a house-made focaccia-like Piada oven-baked bread, was just the perfect match to soak up the garlic olive oil on the plate. I also found myself immersing my pasta in that wonderful sauce along with chunks of the shrimp. An awesome combination as recommended by our very attentive server.
Our visit to New Orleans ended perfectly with Sophia Nola’a fine cuisine as a casual elegant romantic crescendo. A slow walk back to the hotel didn’t seem nearly as hostile as first walking through the warehouse district. We began to notice some of the wonderful attributes of the New Orleans city.
Sophia Nola is one of the better, new reasons to venture away from the grind and chaotic nature of the popular New Orleans bustle.
Take a moment and enjoy yourselves at Sophia Nola.