Archive for the ‘Domenica’ Category

We Want Your Roosevelt New Orleans Stories!

Posted on: April 21st, 2009 by admin 26 Comments

The Sazerac Bar will be returning to its former glory in The Roosevelt New Orleans, and it will once again serve New Orleans cocktail classics like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz (recipes below).

But even more important than the drinks are the stories that accompany them. We’re sure the new bar will generate more than its share, but we want to hear about your most memorable visit to The Roosevelt New Orleans. When were you there? What did you order? What do you remember about it?

Share your story in the comments!


  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1 1/2oz rye whiskey
  • 1/4oz Herbsaint
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • lemon peel, for garnish

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the rye whiskey to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Ramos Gin Fizz

  • 2oz gin (Old Tom if you can find it)
  • 1oz heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2oz lemon juice
  • 1/2oz lime juice
  • 2t sugar
  • 3 drops orange flower water
  • club soda, to top

Shake with cracked ice for at least a minute, and strain into a chilled rocks glass. Top with just a bit of club soda.

Sazerac Bar Takes the Spotlight

Posted on: March 14th, 2009 by admin 1 Comment


The Sazerac Bar was in the spotlight in New Orleans March 5, from dawn almost to dusk, with live television comments by general manager Tod Chambers and the third Sazerac Roundtable.

Starting off the day was Chambers’ appearance on the WGNO-TV/ABC26 morning news, where he brought the station’s viewers up to date on the reopening of the hotel and, in particular, the re-launch of the fabled Sazerac Bar. Reporter Lorin Gaudin and the morning crew interviewed Chambers as bartender Michael Glassberg prepared Sazerac cocktails on the set, carefully following the drink’s recipe. “The Sazerac Bar once again will shine with the fabulous Paul Ninas murals originally painted in the 1930s,” Chambers said, “and the bar will reclaim its place as one of America’s finest cocktail destinations.”

Later that day, approximately 45 invited guests gathered at the French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s Restaurant to share stories about the Sazerac Bar, the Sazerac cocktail and the hotel itself. Chambers, as well as director of sales and marketing Mark Wilson, welcomed guests who included members of the news media, community leaders, business owners and others who are looking forward to the June 2009 reopening.

John Besh And Alon Shaya Partner To Open Domenica

Posted on: March 9th, 2009 by admin 6 Comments

In New Orleans, the heart of a neighborhood often is defined by its corner restaurant or bar, a warm and inviting space where patrons are almost certain to know who will be dining at what time and table – a place so welcoming and with characters so congenial that diners feel they could slide in and join them at that table.

Take that neighborhood spot, increase the size, drop it into a world-renowned Waldorf Astoria hotel in downtown New Orleans, and you’ve got Domenica, a new look and idea for the Besh Restaurant Group. With Alon Shaya, former chef de cuisine at Besh Steak in New Orleans, as executive chef and partner with John Besh, Domenica will open in June 2009, serving an extensive menu of rustic Italian fare in a lively, open dining room seating about 120 at private or long communal tables.

Shaya is smitten to the point of obsession with the unpretentious country fare he encountered during his year-long sabbatical in Italy, and the dishes and setting of Domenica are smartly fitted to suit his passion.

“This is exactly the sort of food everyone likes to eat – simple, approachable and honest,” Shaya says, “prepared with skill and infinite care.”

The name “Domenica” means “Sunday” in Italian, and no matter what day of the week it is visitors will experience that warm and inviting Sunday-supper feeling.

Just as in the Besh Restaurant Group’s other restaurants – August, Besh Steak, Lüke and La Provence – the culinary emphasis will be on local, artisan-crafted products. At Domenica, the focus will be on traditional and regional Italian foods using many local Louisiana ingredients, as well as imported Italian artisan oils, cheese, flours and vinegars.

Occupying a spot in The Roosevelt New Orleans, the historic downtown hotel currently undergoing a $145-million historic restoration, Domenica becomes part of a rich example of New Orleans culture.

“By adding Domenica, we feel The Roosevelt New Orleans will reclaim its position as a premier dining location in a city that appreciates and expects fine dining,” says hotel general manager Tod Chambers.

At the corner of business-oriented Canal and Baronne streets, it will be perfectly situated to bring together neighbors with diverse interests but a shared taste for great food and camaraderie.

Entering Domenica, guests first encounter the raised bar area seating about 20. The bar itself is anchored by antique glass meat cases displaying Shaya’s estate-raised pork delicacies. To reach the private dining room, guests will be ushered right through the bustling kitchen for a fleeting, intimate look at the inner workings of an authentic Italian kitchen.

The main dining room, however, will be a cavernous, open space, packed with vintage character and dark masculine wood – for example, that of the sturdy, handmade tables weathered by the waters of the nearby Gulf of Mexico and salvaged from a barge submerged for more than 200 years. The long communal refectory tables will seat 10 to 12, with smaller parties at surrounding tables. The floors will be rustic heart pine, and the wooden tables will be topped not with tablecloths but with hearty placemats printed with the menu.

Shaya spent time northeast of Milan, traveling as much as he could to places like Venice, Tuscany and Trentino Alto Adige, tasting, watching and learning. He favored the small Italian towns and countryside establishments where proud artisans have created their products and, in turn, dishes under the same azure skies in the shade of the same ancient cedars using the same ingredients, techniques and equipment handed down through the generations.

“These were not Michelin-starred restaurants,” Shaya explains, “but what I came to understand was authentic Italian culture.”

Working in these tiny, family-run operations, Shaya has been privy to authentic, long-established recipes and techniques. Performing all tasks as a full-time line cook, he has had the opportunity to perfect the methods for perfectly crusted pizza, exquisitely handmade pastas, pillowy gnocchi, fire-roasted vegetables and creamy risotto. Luckily for New Orleans, he has brought all of his knowledge, experience and enthusiasm back with him, distinguishing his craft with an unmatched devotion and raising the bar of excellence for the region’s agricultural bounty.

The chef and his staff are not all that is awaiting Domenica’s opening: there is also a small stockpile of 1,500 pounds of salumi slowly curing, and prosciuttos and hams that have been aging for close to 12 months at the Besh Restaurant Group’s shared smoke house at La Provence in Lacombe, La. Shaya packed them away before his Italian adventure and is now refining his menu and preparing additional cured meats, hand-crafted Italian style cheeses, liqueurs and other time-intensive traditional Italian ingredients that cannot be hurried but which are integral to the authentic country Italian fare he learned “living over the store.”

Bread service sets the tone of each meal, with a basket of assorted house-made grissini, aromatic with fine sea salt and other seasonings. The fresh flavors of simple salads, pastas, and roasted meats braised with natural juices and a wide variety of antipasti using the freshest Louisiana produce will drive the menu. Each item will reflect the pure and unpretentious cuisine Shaya encountered in his travels, basic preparations with sometimes just two to three ingredients per dish. Pizzas will bake to blistered perfection in an authentic wood-burning oven. A portion of the menu will be dedicated to large platters heaped with savory fare brought to the table for all to share amid an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation, as food is typically presented on the day of rest among families in Italy.

“There’s a strong sense of community in rural Italy, just as there is here in New Orleans,” Shaya observes, “and this will be a place to rub elbows with neighbors – a loud, fun, boisterous and happy place.”

With custom-made beers and a wine list focusing on various regions of Italy, the libations at Domenica are ideally suited to the menu and to discriminating palates. Most bottles will be priced modestly under $35, with a special list of Barolos and Barbarescos on reserve. It also will be hard to resist Shaya’s own house-made nocino and limoncello, the latter of which started with Meyer lemons he recently picked in season in Louisiana’s countryside, Plaquemines Parish.

Domenica will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

Exclusive Interview with Executive Chef of New John Besh Restaurant

Posted on: February 23rd, 2009 by admin No Comments

John Besh, chef and owner of several New Orleans restaurants including August and Lüke, will be opening a new Italian restaurant, Domenica, in The Roosevelt New Orleans this year. We got a chance to ask a few questions of Alon Shaya, executive chef of Domenica and partner in the restaurant, and the answers left our mouths watering…

Salumi will obviously be a big part of Domenica. Will you be using local pigs? What types of salumi, specifically, do you plan on offering, and why?

Once I returned from Italy that was the first thing I started doing. We had a few pigs from La Provence slaughtered and began curing the pig necks (coppa) the bellies for pancetta, the legs for culatello and fiochetto, and we also made lots of different kinds of salami, like strolghino and Gentile. Salumi will be a big part of what we do at Domenica because it is a big part of the everyday eating habits of Italians. I had a chance to work in a Salumificio (a butchery that makes all kinds of cured meats) outside of Parma and learned some very old recipes for different kinds of cured Italian meats, so that is what I am replicating back here in New Orleans.

I’ve heard that there are plans for a wood-fired oven for cooking meats, pizzas, and other Italian country fare. Can you whet our appetites with a hint of what’s to come?

We will have a wood fired brick oven in the kitchen to make Napolitano style pizzas. The great thing about those ovens is they also work great for roasting meats and fish, so we will take advantage of that as well. From Domenica you can expect the types of foods you would eat with families in the country sides of Italy. Braised game birds and rabbit, grilled whole fish with lemon and herbs, hand rolled pastas with simple sauces, ricotta and spinach dumplings, fritto misto of Louisiana seafood. These are the foods I remember eating all the time Italy and I think people in New Orleans have been missing out on some of these traditional dishes.

Italian cuisine is definitely not at the forefront of the New Orleans food scene. What inspired you to open an Italian restaurant? What will you be offering that visitors and locals can’t find elsewhere?

Italian food has always been my first love when it comes to cooking. When I first started working in restaurants they were all Italian and I learned under some really great chefs. Visitors and locals will be able to experience the foods that you find in small towns and villages throughout Italy. As I traveled through Italy I found the best foods to be in small trattorie and osterie that were run by families and usually had the grandmother at the helm in the kitchen. I made it my mission to study those foods with the intention of bringing it back to new Orleans. We will still have very recognizable foods like lasagne bolognese, but it’s a recipe I learned from the 83 year old grandmother of the chef I worked for in Italy.

What appeals to you, both as a chef and diner, about country Italian food versus a fine dining experience?

I love soaking up juice left on a plate with thick pieces of bread. I love the taste of fresh arugula over a grilled steak after its been sprinkled with a little salt and lemon juice, I love eating the pieces of carrots and celery in the bottom of a casserole dish of braised rabbits, I love the way the oil separates from meat sauce on a plate of hand cut tagliatelle. Need I say more?