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Jun 3, 2008 10:03 AM

Fantastic Italian - Leonardo's Trattoria

Hi! Long time lurker, first time poster here. I had a fantastic meal last night and really wanted to share this gem of a restrant with all of you.

It located at 709 St. Charles (right next door to Herbsaint). Dispite its location, I think its fairly unknown. Its a small intimate place with brick walls and a large bar. They have a medium sized wine list, all handpicked. Traditional italian food, pastas, veal and chicken, with some seafood. While not a fancy place, it has a homey feel, with large flat sceens on all the wall playing classic italian mafia movies with the sound off (I spotted Goodfellas, The Godfather: Part II, Raging Bull, the Soparanos, and Ocean's 11 when I went). Service was excellent and very friendly.

The food was FANTASTIC!! When I need my traditional italian fix I usually go to Vincent's, but this place blows Vincent's out of the water by a long shot. I went with two other diners and we each got something different and we all were raving about the food. (one of us even got another dish to go to enjoy later!) We got to meet the chef afterwards who seemed flattered by the attention and told us that he focused on classic, simple italian tastes, none of the italian fushion which he finds so much of in this city. Prices were pretty much in line with what we expected, about $100 for four entrees and a mid-priced bottle of wine.

Anyway, bottom line is that this place is incredible and really worth a visit to statisfy your italian craving. I am self-interested because I don't want to see this place shut down for lack of business! I would be interested in knowing what y'all think of the place, if any of you have been there.

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  1. This is not the first time I have heard about this little gem, but I have yet to go. Keeps slipping off my radar. Are they open for lunch do you know?

    1. read a glowing report on another's the 411:
      709 St. Charles Avenue
      504/ 558-8986
      Open: M-F Lunch 11-2pm; M-S Dinner 5-11pm; Closed Sunday

      The only authentic Sicilian Trattoria in New Orleans! Chef Leonardo Daniele brings together Sicilian classics and sophisticated contemporary fare in a fun-filled family atmosphere.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. So exactly what dishes did you have? Is it strictly Sicilian or do they offer northern Italian cuisine as well?

          3 Replies
          1. re: hjacmc

            I can't remember the name of the dish that I had off the top of my head just now. It was pasta stuffed with ricotta and spinach with a tomato based sauce. The other two had the lobster raviolli and the veal carbonara. I think my dish was deemed to be the best, but I thought that the veal was a very close second: very tender with a fantatic finish on the sauce. As I remember the menu, it seems to be mostly southern italian dishes.

            Also, we were told they were not open for lunch yet when we asked.

            1. re: ladymako

              they were open for lunch back in April (as posted on another forum); they had a name change, but same folks. as reported elsewhere, they were looking for more wait staff, so maybe they cut back on their hours. a call to them this morning has gone unanswered (with no recorded message or answering machine).

              if you like stuffed shells or canneloni or carbonara, Fausto's is consistently good, as well as Two Tony's.

              1. re: edible complex

                They're open for lunch now. I was there yesterday, and it looks like I had at least some of the same things you did. The mozzarella "sandwiches" on the appetizer menu were very good, and the caponata - once it warmed up a little from being refrigerated - was nice too. The pizza I had was okay; I probably should have ordered one with sausage. The pasta dish mentioned above was excellent. It's little envelopes of fresh pasta filled with ricotta and a chiffonade of spinach, topped with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese and baked.

                I thought the sauce (which also topped the mozzarella in carozzo) was good. It was lighter than I expected. It hadn't had the life cooked out of it.

                But what really freaking irks me is that I latched onto this place in part because I keep trying to find new places to write about. And then I get scooped here! I can't win I tell you. I can't win. ;)

          2. Having lived out side of Boston's North End for years, I am always jaded about Italian food here in New Orleans, but I ate here for lunch today and I have to say that this was good.

            As others have stated the Mozzarella in Carozza were really tasty and the sauce here is very good. There were three of us and we had;

            Veal Parmigiana - a bit too heavily breaded but good

            Ravioli di Carne al Funghi - meat filled ravioli with a wild mushroom cream sauce that was good.

            I had Rigatoni alla Norma - pasta with basil eggplant (the menu said fried but it wasn't and I was fine with that) this was good and by not being fried made for a light lunch.

            The real stand out for me was the red sauce. It may be the best I have had in town.