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.

Maylie’s Restaurant on Poydras

Maylie’s Restaurant served the Poydras Market area for over a century.

Maylie's Restaurant

Maylie’s Restaurant

Franck Studios captured Maylie’s Restaurant, in the 1000 block of Poydras, in the 1950s. The Hibernia Bank Building looms over the old Poydras Market. Maylie’s opened as a bar in 1876, adding sandwiches and a full dinner menu as business grew. The restaurant closed in 1986. The location is now a Walk-Ons sports bar.

The Bernard Maylie and Hypolite Esparbe opened a bar at 1000 Poydras Street, in 1876. This location stood across the street from the Poydras Market. The city licensed and supervised a series of public markets. Thpse markets lasted into the 1940s, when privately-owned supermarkets replaced them. The public markets ensured sanitary conditions, particularly for sale of meat and seafood. By the 1930s, air-conditioning enabled grocers to expand beyond dry goods.

Maylie and Esparbe originally catered to the workers and stall-owners at the market. They offered a place where those men could stop for a drink or beer after the market closed. They recognized an opportunity to open earlier in the day, and gave away sandwiches to bar patrons. Eventually, customers suggested they stay open for dinner. The bar became a full restaurant. Maylie’s served a table d’hôte menu. Diners appreciated the regular fare and inexpensive prices.

The restaurant’s reputation allowed it to survive the changes in the neighborhood, after the closing of Poydras Market. Generations of men (women were not admitted until 1925) returned after work for dinner. Bernard Maylie’s grandson, Willie, operated the restaurant into the 1980s. Willie lived on the second floor of the building. He closed the restaurant in 1986.

Copper Vine

While the Maylie’s building now houses the sports bar, another restaurant, Copper Vine, stands next to it. its name comes from that big vine growing out from Maylie’s, up onto the wall. So, the memories continue.

(thanks to Todd Price for his profile of Maylie’s from 2018)