Tag Archives: Italian

Redemption at the Foundry

I like to describe myself not as a food critic but rather a food enthusiast. That’s because there’s too much good stuff to eat out there that it’s simply not worth my time or yours to dwell on the bad or the unremarkable. It’s for the latter reasons that I never covered the Foundry on the Bayou in Thibodaux. At least until now.

The Foundry just never did it for me before. I was excited when it first opened, but the food was unfocused and a bit overpriced. When they later changed the menu, I just didn’t care for anything I had there. Its one redeeming quality was the great bar upstairs with a patio overlooking Downtown Thibodaux and Bayou Lafourche. Part of me always wished that such a beautiful restaurant with such a perfect location had food to match.

Now, it does. Continue reading Redemption at the Foundry

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An Illustrated Guide to Cristiano

Once again, our area is receiving a bit of attention for showing up on a popular list making its way around Facebook. Thrillist’s “11 of the Best Louisiana Restaurants Outside News Orleans” includes Cristiano and Fremin’s in its number. And while it’s great to see some of the restaurants I love get some of the recognition they deserve, I can’t help feeling a bit disappointed with the list. Two sentences are all that readers have to glean what they can about each of the restaurants, so I figured it may be helpful to elaborate for anyone whose interest may have been piqued by the list.

Consider these mini-reviews of two great, local restaurants.

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Upscale but casual, sophisticated yet rustic.

Despite serving some of the area’s most sophisticated food, Cristiano retains a comfortable casual vibe. The dining rooms are dark, the walls adorned with interesting artwork like some hip apartment in a trendy part of town. The patio is more casual still and perfect for sharing dishes and boisterous conversation with friends.

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A trip to Cristiano isn’t complete without their chargrilled oysters.

It’s very much possible, and recommended, to make a meal out of sharing a variety of appetizers at Cristiano. The star has to be the chargrilled oysters, unique among Drago’s imitators with the inclusion of sweet red pepper to the buttery, garlicky mix. The fried green tomatoes, topped with lump crab meat remoulade, are a close second. Be prepared to order another round.

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Chili-fried oysters, one of the great seafood appetizers on the summer menu.

If Cristiano’s year-round fare wasn’t enough, open the menu and you’re greeted by their seasonal dishes: unique plates focusing on the current season’s fresh offerings. Each one usually consists of a soup, salad, a handful of appetizers, and a number of entrees. Recurring themes seem to be fantastic carpaccio (thin slivers of raw beef) served upon a marble slab, duck confit (cooked in its own fat), and lots of great seafood. At the moment, the Summer menu features amazing chili-fried oysters, curried mussels, and pan-seared sea scallops.

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Gnocchi with bacon and pork shoulder, spicy shrimp pasta, crawfish risotto, and hake with jalapeno risotto. Four specials, all served on the same day!

Specials are a specialty at Cristiano. If you’ve somehow exhausted the regular and seasonal menus, there are the daily specials. If you aren’t already following the restaurant on Facebook, the staff posts fresh preparations of gnocchi, risotto, pasta, fish, and more every afternoon. The pillowy gnocchi and creamy risotto can’t be matched, or sometimes even found, elsewhere in the area.

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Lemon pound cake with blueberry sauce and vanilla gelato dessert special!

It’s difficult to advocate saving room for dessert here when it’s possible to fill up entirely on appetizers, but you may regret not doing so when your server recites the available desserts. Italian classics like tiramisu and gelato are fantastic, but listen for any dessert specials. They’re always great and usually accompanied by a scoop of one of the great gelatos. Plan to share at least one with the table.

The secret to enjoying Cristiano, not that it’s difficult, is to go in expecting to indulge, preferably with others in the same mind set who are willing to order almost the entire menu just so they can try a bit of everything. When that happens, nothing can go wrong.

Cristiano Ristorante | 724 High St, Houma, LA 70360 | (985) 223-1130

Welcoming the Third Wheel

Cristiano’s daily Facebook posts detailing the evening’s dinner specials keep us going back to what would typically be a once-a-year kind of restaurant. This time, we seized upon our good friend Brandon coming to visit as an excuse to go back. As it turns out, Cristiano is an excellent choice for both a romantic date and a fun dinner with friends.

Having only decided to go at the last minute, we didn’t make a reservation and had to wait for a little while in Cristiano’s lounge. It’s an extremely interesting space, dark and filled with eclectic leather furniture. There’s a nice bar in the front and a few sets of sofas and chairs separated into their own intimate seating areas. A group of people to our side were sharing some appetizers at a low table. I’d like to go back some time and make a meal out of Cristiano’s appetizers in the lounge some day. My only complaint would be the odd vibe the club music creates with the unique decor.

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Once we were seated, Brandon coaxed us away from our usual decision to order a carafe of the house red wine and instead go with a bottle of Riesling. Lindsay and I usually stick to reds, but the chilled bottle of semi-sweet white went well with our meal.

We started our meal with an unintentional tomato feast. The bruschetta was overflowing with so much diced seasoned tomato it was hard to see the crostinis underneath. It was a bit difficult to eat with every bite unleashing an avalanche of tangy bright red tomato onto our plates. This worked out in our favor, though, as the little bit of greens served beside the bruschetta were perfect for scooping up the leftovers.

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We also had the fried green tomatoes, which turned out to be my favorite part of the entire meal. The three medallions of fried tomato were topped with a cold crabmeat remoulade. The dynamic between the cold, rich crab and the piping hot tomato combining with each bite made me regret, if just for a moment, that I had to share the appetizer.

Lindsay, once again, got the daily gnocchi: brie gratinee. Each miniature potato dumpling was so rich and creamy. Our waiter confirmed our suspicion that the gnocchi isn’t typically served as its own entree when he asked if Lindsay wanted a double portion, but the incredible richness makes it the perfect centerpiece of a multi-course meal. If Lindsay wasn’t already content enough with her choice, it turned out to be only nine bucks.

Brandon went with the family recipe lasagna. He raved about the way it was served with the sauce on the side, maintaining the pasta’s texture through every bite.

I was finally able to get the anatra, the summer menu’s duck confit entree that they ran out of the first time we came to sample the seasonal dishes. The duck leg was coated with a sweet candied fig sauce. On their own, the skin would have been too sweet, and the meat within too salty, but together they were two powerful flavors balancing out into one delicious bite. The sauteed arugula and duck fat roasted potatoes served with it were equally powerful and tasty.

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We decided to hear the evening’s desserts, listening for something that the three of us could share, but nothing really struck a chord with us until we inquired further. Only then did we learn that Cristiano offers a gelato sampler, a choice of three out of four flavors. Chocolate-covered bacon immediately jumped out as the flavor we had to try, accompanied by Zabaione and chocolate (maybe we’ll try vanilla another time.) The three of us went through the flavors in order, ending with the bacon. It had a subtle smoky flavor that worked well with the chocolate. There was no gimmick to it like you would imagine hearing “bacon gelato.” I’d order it again.

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This meal was more of a special occasion than our last couple visits, but I’m always thrilled to find something new and delicious at Cristiano. We don’t need to go all out every visit ordering wine, multiple appetizers, seasonal entrees, and dessert every time. We’ve had just as good a time making a meal out of appetizers, ordering the cheaper plates of gnocchi and risotto, and getting ice cream up the road at the Scarlet Scoop for dessert. So far, Cristiano hasn’t disappointed in letting us have the meal we want, no matter the occasion.

Cristiano Ristorante |  724 High St, Houma, LA, (985) 223-1130

Valentine’s dinner at Cristiano

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Nice rack!

Where to eat: Cristiano Ristorante (724 High St, Houma)

What to order: Chargrilled oysters, Agnello

While I certainly wouldn’t recommend a casual trip to Cristiano, it was a perfect local restaurant for a Valentine’s Day dinner. The restaurant itself is quaint while the service and food are quite upscale. I don’t imagine it’s usually as busy during the week or even the weekend like it was for Valentine’s, but fortunately, we made reservations and everyone dressed for the occasion.

A special Valentine’s menu was available that evening, but Lindsay and I had been eying the standard items online for the past two weeks, so we only glanced at it before deciding. We started with a half dozen chargrilled oysters. These differed a bit from the iconic Drago’s charbroiled oysters in that they’re topped with roasted red pepper which lend a sweeter finish. And while it’s not likely any restaurant can top Drago’s creation, Cristiano’s take was delicious nonetheless.

Lindsay ordered the Filetto alla Fiorentina, a 10 ounce filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with a peppercorn brandy demi glace drizzled atop. The filet had a nice crust with a smoky flavor.

I went with the Agnello, a rack of lamb crusted with dijon and herbs and served with polenta crisps and a rich, savory sauce. It was my first time ordering a rack of lamb anywhere, so the presentation of the chops interlocking with the bones was impressive. The meal was delicious and went well with our carafe of house cabernet.

I’d like to go back to Cristiano again, even if we just order pasta. It’s a very charming restaurant for a special occasion. What are the best restaurants for occasions like Valentine’s Day or anniversaries in the area? Let us know in the comments.