Standing out from the crowd in America’s best restaurant city is a feat.
Which is why a Mano, which means by hand, is such a New Orleans gem. Owned by chef Adolfo Garcia (Rio Mar, La Boca), with chef de cuisine Josh Smith in the kitchen, a Mano is, along with John Besh and Alon Shaya’s Domenica, at the forefront of the Big Easy’s new Italian wave.
House cured salumi and bresaola, a seasonal salad of heirloom tomatoes and clouds of burrata, the fresh cheese made with mozzarella and heavy cream and lump crab meat in a squid ink cavatelli were highlights of a recent meal.
Then there was the amazing seafood salad, a bellwether of Southern Italian cuisine from the region of Campania. Chilled calamari and shrimp, along with paper-thin coins of octopus, tender potatoes and bits of celery leaf elevated this appetizer to hall of fame status. Delicate, to the point of being ethereal, was what one diner swooned.
At a Mano, the wine service is stellar, the ambiance sparely elegant. Although the chef is relocating come fall, here’s hoping that his replacement, sous chef Nick Martin, will be equally adept at letting seasonal ingredients tell the story, in a style that is both simple and sophisticated.
Definitely put a Mano on your must dine list the next time you visit New Orleans. It’s wonderful.