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Romantic Italian Restaurant plus some great hole in the wall bars and restaurants

We are heading to New Orleans on Friday, and I would like to take my husband to a great Italian restaurant for his birthday. I am torn between Giovannis and Irene's Cuisine. Both look great, but both also had questionable reviews on different websites. Can anyone point me to the perfect combo of great food and wine with good atmosphere? We will not have a car, but do not mind taxis, public transport or walking. We will be in NO for 5 days so other restaurant suggestions would be great, we like everything!!
Also, we like to be a bit off the beaten path, any suggestions for great hole in the wall places to eat lunch or dinner. I like the look of Snug Harbor, but also thought the Old Point Bar looked fun, as does the Saturn Bar, but I don't know if it is still open.
How is Ugelsich's? Le Crepe Naniou? We will definitely be checking out Dooky Chase's.

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  1. Uglesich's is not open; closed since before Katrina. For the next few weeks, Dooky Chase will be take-out only.

    Check out Liuzza's by the Track (on N. Lopez), they're back to a full menu. Not exactly a hole in the wall, but a nice neighborhood joint.

    1. I've never been to Giovanni's, but Irene's is fabulous. Other great options are Adolfo's & Vincent's.

      Le Crepe is pretty good.

      Saturn Bar is open.

      Hole in the wall: Domilise's

      5 Replies
      1. re: cor

        Thanks!! Adolfo's sounds great and only a few blocks from where we are staying. We love little places like this, sounds alot like our favorite restaurant here (Wild Bites).
        Thanks so much for the recommendation

        1. re: lacave

          FYI: Adolphos is BYO.
          Tommy's is better than Irene's IMO.

          The ferry ride to Algiers is great...I would combine Old Point and Crown and Anchor.

          The perfect restaurant for you may well be Dick and Jenny's...fun crown, AWESOME food, and good carafes of wine. From there...Ms. Mae's is a find...$1 mixed drinks...24/7...literally. If you are feeling brave for hole in the wall bars, finish the night at Snake and Jake's.....also lower Decateur has a bar scene you may enjoy if like grungy bars.
          Breakfast= Elizabeth's in Bywater.
          Late Night= Clover Grill on Bourbon

          1. re: lacave

            I adore Adolfo's and hope you will too. As for it being BYO, I thought wine was available, but I could be misremembering. But there was certainly no problem getting drinks at The Apple Barrel downstairs and bringing them up to dinner with us.

            The Marigny Brasserie is up the street and we had a fabulous meal there last April. Definitely not a hole in the wall though.

              1. re: Fydeaux

                Adolfo's is not BYOB only, they do have a wine list. But, it is CASH only.

          2. For hole in the wall bars...
            off of Bourbon St there is a bar called the Goldmine with flaming Dr Pepper shots, they will do you right.
            Try the Maple Leaf if there is music playing.
            Down on Frenchman there is DBA.
            Off in the Marigny is a bad called Mimi's that has great funk/soul djs upstairs. good tapas downstairs too. Very funky eclectic crowd.
            Thursday nights Kermit Ruffins plays at a bar in the 9th ward and i cannot remember the name of it, but it is the definition of an amazing hole in the wall. They serve red beans and rice while he plays also.
            On Upperline and Prytania there is Kingpin, which was always one of my favorites - they have a shuffleboard table too (it is right near Le Crepe Nanou and Upperline).

            5 Replies
            1. re: mikek

              Last time I was at the Goldmine, they had replaced the fantastic 80s dance music with horrible new pop stuff. I was so depressed. The flaming Dr. Pepper cheered me up, though. :)

              The place where Kermit Ruffins plays is Vaughn's.

              1. re: mikek

                is DBA the bar on frenchman that has a very wide selection of beers and also a whole bunch of whiskey and bourbons?

                  1. re: kevin

                    Yea, one of my favorite bars in the city. They often have great live music as well.

                    1. re: mikek

                      just happened to stumble on there on a rainy eve for jazz fest.

                1. *Kermit plays at Vaughn's
                  *Adolfo's was good suggestion, as was Mimi's

                  Off the Beaten Path (but not far from Quarter):
                  Eleven 79
                  -1179 Annunciation St
                  New Orleans, LA 70130
                  (504) 299-1179
                  (amazing Italian, owner used to be manager for Louie Prima back in the day, and i know they'll have a good wine list)
                  -Feelings Cafe - www.feelingscafe.com
                  -Saint Bar and Lounge (961 Saint Mary St., 523-0050)
                  -Parasol's (2533 Constance St., 897-5413; www.parasols.com)
                  -Cafe Degas (3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635; www.cafedegas.com

                  )

                  The other places I'm thinking of are a little far for a cab ride.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jamielynn

                    Vaughn's - ha the fact that I do not remember the name speaks volumes about the times I have had there!

                  2. Irene's and Giovanni are both excellent. Totally different dining experiences. IMO a table for 2 by the window (although not the 1st as you enter) at Giovanni's on a Wed., Fri. or Sat. would be the more romantic of the two. Pianist and opera singers ( we're not opera fans but enjoy the singers) perform intermittently on these nights. Chef Duke's tasting menus are a bargain. Although Tommy's has essentially the same menu as Irene's, neither the food nor the ambience compares. Vincent's on St. Charles has good Italian food also. Snug Harbor has the same burgers as Port of Call but doesn't open till dinner. POC opens 11am continuously. Burgers are really good, come with a large baked potato and are very filling. Brigtsen's (reservations essential), Dick and Jennys ( opens 5:30, no reservations, dine in the "plate" room).K-Paul's is fun, has good-great food. Mimis for late night tapas. Lola's on Esplanade, funky decor, casual, garlicy mediterranean food. Dooky Chase is open for take out only (per No Menu.com).