T. Pittari’s Restaurant on Claiborne

T. Pittari’s Restaurant on Claiborne

T. Pittari’s Restaurant started uptown before moving to Broadmoor.

pittari's restaurant

T. Pattari’s Restaurant

Pittari’s Restaurant was originally located on Magazine and Washington. Tom Pittari took over from his uncle, Anthony, and moved the place to the 4200 S. Claiborne in the 1940s. While it was best known for its exotic dishes, such as Maine lobster and wild game, Pittari’s solid Creole cooking attracted a regular clientele. Fitzmorris offers a detailed profile of the restaurant. I came away from his story thinking the place was more a clip joint than a neighborhood restaurant. The restaurant closed after the one-two punch of the big street flooding in 1978 and 1980.

French Quarter food in Broadmoor

Fitzmorris describes Tom Pittari’s marketing in detail. I like the part about giving cab drivers an extra tip when they enticed tourists out of the Vieux Carre out to S. Claiborne. The place was huge, taking up the entire 4200 block. The activity, on what was already a very busy street, stuck in the heads of passers-by. Pittari combined that neighborhood action with tourists and stayed busy.

The food

What made Pittari’s Restaurant popular was their basic menu. Fitzmorris writes:

The Creole dishes were better still. The dish I remember most fondly was crab bisque, made with a medium roux, a good bit of claw crabmeat, and a crab boulette that the waiter would bring in a separate dish and plop into the soup right in front of you.

Tom Pittari no doubt saw the crowds waiting to eat barbecue shrimp at Pascal’s Manale (a near neighbor). He developed his own excellent version. They baked very fine oysters Rockefeller and Bienville, broiled fish and meats with interesting sauces, and fried seafood well. Really, Pittari’s was a respectable all-around Creole restaurant. But nobody seems to remember that.

Good Creole-French food attracted tourists to Pittari’s Restaurant. You can just hear a cab driver in the 1950s telling a tourist couple as they pulled away from the hotel, “I’ve got a great place for you, and you don’t need a reservation!” Add to that solid Creole-Italian dishes, and the locals walked or drove over.

Lobster Kadobster

The “exotic” food that attracted locals was live Maine Lobster. Pittari’s was the first restaurant in New Orleans to offer live lobster. The tank stood right in the dining room. The restaurant also cooked a stuffed lobster. The signature lobster dish was “Lobster Kadobster.” They broiled the lobster, serving it with a spicy sauce. Fitzmorris recalls that the dish was quite expensive. His other comments on the menu’s pricing are, well, not flattering.