New Orleans Dining: Angelo Brocato

October 10, 2007

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Angelo Brocato Ice Cream
214 N. Carrolton Ave.
New Orleans, LA
504-486-0078

Web Site: http://www.angelobrocatoicecream.com

Angelo Brocato looks like it would be completely at home in Boston’s North End, Manhattan’s Little Italy or on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. But it’s not — it’s on one of the busiest streets in New Orleans’ Mid-city district. The famous ice cream parlor opened in 1905 in The French Quarter, where Croissant D’Or Patisserie resides now. It moved to its current location in the 1970’s.

Shortly after the shop celebrated its 100th birthday, fate intervened. On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the city and the rest, of course, is history. Sadly, Angelo Brocato was one of the worst hit businesses when the levees broke — over four feet of water poured into the shop and destroyed absolutely everything. Many thought that the place would never be rebuilt, but optimism was high in the Brocato family and announcements were made that the legendary gelato/pastry store and cafe would again re-open.

The trademark neon sign on North Carrolton Avenue.

The Angelo Brocato store, as it was, in June of 2005, just two months prior to its destruction. During that particular visit we went to Brocato’s two times. During the evenings the store was packed, even late at night, and it’s not unusual to have to wait on line even past 10PM.

A selection of gelato treats from the pre-Katrina store.

Did New Orleans get its Gelato back? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Willie Mae’s Scotch House

September 25, 2007

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Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 Saint Ann St, New Orleans, LA

(504) 822-9503

Many restaurants in New Orleans can legitimately call themselves cultural landmarks. And yet, when Hurricane Katrina came, the levees broke and the city flooded, there was a very short list of foodie destinations in the affected areas where I thought it would be a monumental tragedy if they never returned to business again. Magnificent restaurants like Commander’s Palace. Neighborhood hangouts like Angelo Brocato’s. And little holes in the wall like Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which is arguably the fried chicken Mecca of the United States and has huge historical value to the civil rights movement, much like the original Paschal’s in Atlanta.

It was a huge, Herculean task to bring Willie Mae’s Scotch House back from the dead. The water line from the flooding was several feet high, and the entire restaurant had to be gutted to the studs. A huge volunteer reconstruction project started in January of 2006 funded by over $200,000 in donations solicited by the Southern Foodways Alliance eventually resulted in the re-opening of the restaurant in May of 2007 (A short SFA film directed by filmmaker Joe York, “Saving Willie Mae’s Scotch House” chronicled the project.)

Upon re-opening of the restaurant, Ms Seaton, age 90, relinquished her place as head cook to her great granddaughter, Kerry Blackmon. However, despite organizational changes, the Fried Chicken is as great as ever.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House on Saint Ann Street in New Orleans, August 29 2007, two years to the day that Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city.

It was fitting that we got to eat at Willie Mae’s on August 29. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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