Finding this always-crowded French Quarter standby might take some work, but once you're through the door, you're caught up in a familial vibe that's simultaneously swirling and relaxed. Snappy, well-rehearsed waitstaff and the ever-charming Irene DiPietro preside over three kitschy yet romantic dining spaces--parlor, library, and wine cellar.
Irene's dishes up classic Creole-Italian cuisine--the love child of Sicilian immigrant cuisine and buttery French-inspired sauces native to the city. Shellfish dominate the starter list, with the eponymous oyster dish--baked half-shells with savory pancetta-romano topping--taking well-deserved top billing. A shortish list of entrees mixes continental metaphors with excellent results. The trademark rosemary chicken packs a subtly sweet punch of roasted garlic. End with another hybrid knockout, a Foster-sauced bread pudding with sauteed bananas and ice cream, or a letter-perfect tiramisu.
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