Real Italian in NOLA
The following is in response to Michael Dominici’s restaurant review of Domenica, June 2019.
I was happy to read OffBeat’s enthusiastic review of Domenica. It’s just about the only genuine Italian restaurant in New Orleans, whereas too many so-called Italian places serve a hybrid cuisine with some Italian elements. Too much cream, butter, remoulade, etc.—French touches that are not typical of actual (southern) Italian cooking. In New Orleans, Italian food is adapted more to French, Creole, and Cajun than vice-versa. As a Sicilian-American from New York who has been coming to New Orleans for decades, I’ve always been baffled by the lack of authentic Italian food in the city. (Yes, Brocato’s is fine but it’s a gelateria/pasticceria, not a restaurant.) Perhaps it’s because the Italian-American community is an old one, older than New York’s or other cities’, and its food is frozen in time. The Italian food scene in New Orleans hasn’t been revitalized by successive waves of new immigrants. In New York, Sicilian, Sardinian, and Pugliese chefs and restaurateurs, and Neapolitan pizzaioli, are opening new places, many of which are as good as anything in Italy. When I’m in New Orleans, I always go to Domenica. I took a friend, a New Orleans native of Sicilian background, for dinner there and she loved it. “How did I not know of this place?” she said. I recommend that tourists—and locals—give the not-really-Italian places a rest and try Domenica.
—George DeStefano, New York, New York
I believe that that the December 2018 OffBeat issue is the best single issue of OffBeat that I have ever received—my goodness, an article on Fess and also one on Dave Bartholomew. Amazing that Dave’s testimony comes from an interview in 1988, never previously available to the public in its entirety. Being able to read Dave’s recollections from 31 years ago, knowing that he is still alive at 100 and with even more accomplishments, was heart-warming.
In addition to the above two articles, I enjoyed the Five Questions interview with Evan Christopher, who is such an impressive musician, and the quite complete article on Jon Batiste, with whom I have been only casually familiar up to now. I also found Jan’s article “Hope for Support” [Mojo Mouth], to be clear, concise, and right on. What a wonderful culture New Orleans has, and is.
I see that the article about Dave Bartholomew was written by John Swenson. I must comment on what a fine job John did while interviewing Ani DiFranco at the Allison Miner stage at Jazz Fest. So many interviewers insert themselves unnecessarily into the process, forgetting their role. John, in contrast, asked great questions, some quite thought-provoking, and then got out of the way. Whereas some interviewers seem to be talking to the audience instead of the performer, I experienced John just totally locked in with Ani.
Accept my appreciation for helping to sustain the musical identity of New Orleans.
—Gordon R. Hodas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Compact Road Map
I just wanted to send out a thank you to the OffBeat team for finally distributing a smaller version of the Jazz Fest Bible this year.
It was more convenient and compact to carry about throughout the Fest, and it appeared to have utilized less materials than my historical collection and helped create, from what I could see about the Fair Grounds on any given day, less trash. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember seeing any discarded Jazz Fest Bibles on the ground this time around.
Anyway, thanks again for the “free” compact road map for the Fest, and as always, looking forward to next year and beginning it all at the Seahorse Saloon (Starting Gate)!
—David Kanios, Palmetto Bay, Florida
OffBeat welcomes letters from its readers—both comments and criticisms. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and contain the current address and phone number of the writer. Letters to the editor are subject to editing for length or content deemed objectionable to OffBeat readers. Please send letters to Editor, OffBeat Publications, 421 Frenchmen St., Suite 200, New Orleans, LA 70116.