The Roosevelt New Orleans was noted by Judy Walker in the Times-Picayune earlier this month.
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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.
Meet and Mingle In Style – The Roosevelt New Orleans Welcomes All to its Grand Ballrooms and Meeting Space
If the walls of The Roosevelt New Orleans’ ballrooms and meeting spaces could talk, imagine the magnificent tales they would tell.
“Our ballrooms represent the history and grandeur of New Orleans but also present a location with unmatched service and attention to detail,” said Mark Wilson, marketing and sales director at The Roosevelt New Orleans. “We want our guests to indulge themselves, while also envisioning these spaces as luxurious locations for their special events.”
The Roosevelt New Orleans has undergone a $145-million restoration and will feature nearly 60,000 square feet of event and meeting space. This includes three spectacular ballrooms and 23 distinctive meeting and event rooms that span two floors of the hotel. Additionally, the hotel will offer 504 luxurious rooms and 135 elegant suites located steps from the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.
The Huey P. Long Executive Boardroom, the hotel’s premiere meeting space, has been named for U.S. Senator and Louisiana Governor Huey Long, who used a suite at The Roosevelt as his headquarters in the 1930s and was well-known by all of the hotel’s staff. Stories abound from his tenure at the hotel, including the flamboyant politician’s greeting of the captain of a visiting German ship while dressed in his green silk pajamas. The boardroom features 570 square feet of space and 10-foot ceilings, as well as the newest telephone, audio/visual and touch-screen lighting control technology available.
The Roosevelt Ballroom, the most expansive and glamorous of the three ballrooms, boasts 20,124 square feet of space and a unique feature not previously available in the hotel’s largest meeting space: “air walls” that quickly and seamlessly convert the room into five smaller spaces to accommodate meetings of various sizes, from a small meeting to a lavish, romantic wedding reception that any bride would envy. Gorgeous chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, dripping with crystal and creating soft, shimmering light throughout the room, regardless of its dimension.
The Crescent City Ballroom features 12,204 square feet of space and numerous layout options, including a banquet configuration for up to 700 people, a schoolroom design with tables and chairs for 523 and a theatre style for up to 1,227.
The Waldorf Astoria Ballroom is the ideal location for anything from a romantic, intimate wedding reception to a small to mid-sized conference. The room features 6,776 square feet of space and 14-foot ceilings, as well as the same five-star service available to all guests of The Roosevelt New Orleans.
The Blue Room – legendary with locals, visitors and celebrities – will return to The Roosevelt New Orleans. In the golden era of supper clubs from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Blue Room played host to some of the best-known names in entertainment and big bands – including Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich, and Sonny and Cher – as well as to elaborate floor shows. In addition to hosting Sunday brunch and regular entertainment, the Blue Room again will be available for the most special of special events, including weddings and carnival balls.
The Roosevelt New Orleans and Guerlain Partner to Open World-Renowned Spa at Historic Hotel in Summer 2009
The Roosevelt New Orleans and luxury spa operator Spa Chakra, Inc., today announced plans to open Guerlain Spa of the renowned Guerlain skincare brand, known worldwide for almost two centuries as a leader in beauty, at the landmark hotel in the summer of 2009.
The legendary Roosevelt is undergoing a $145-million historic restoration as the newest member of the Waldorf Astoria Collection(R). The 12,500-square-foot spa, to be located on the first floor of the hotel and accessible from both the hotel and Baronne Street, will serve hotel guests and the general public.
To further enhance its services to luxury travelers, the hotel worked with Guerlain Spa to develop an exclusive two-hour treatment that will be available to all patrons. Known as the Waldorf Imperiale, the treatment creates a cocooning experience focused on sensory renewal, with a complete body massage and facial featuring Guerlain’s age-defying Orchidee Imperiale skincare.
A historic downtown New Orleans property shuttered since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, The Roosevelt New Orleans will feature 504 rooms, of which 135 will be luxury suites, and nearly 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the spacious 20,000-square-foot Roosevelt Ballroom, 12,000-square-foot Crescent City Ballroom and 7,000-square-foot Waldorf Astoria Ballroom, along with a total of 23 distinctive meeting and event rooms. The historic Roosevelt, first opened as the Grunewald in 1893, once again will feature the famous Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar.
The spa, one of the largest and most complete in the area, will feature:
- 10 private treatment rooms, including two wet treatment rooms and six luxurious dry treatment rooms.
- A couple’s therapy suite, also the double VIP suite, so couples can experience all services in a relaxed and romantic setting. It features a private en suite bathroom with a steam shower that includes dual rain showerheads and individual controls for music and lighting for personalized experiences.
- A VIP treatment room with en suite bathroom, which includes the same luxuries as the double VIP suite.
- Vichy Shower treatments that consist of full-body exfoliations on a cushioned table with five to seven showerheads cascading water on strategic locations along the body to relax, restore and soothe muscle aches and tension.
- Hydrotherapy facilities, including a Stas-Doyer hydrotherapy tub with up to 230 jets that create a whirlpool massage designed to relieve muscle tension in six key areas of the body.
- A full-service salon offering high-end cuts and styles, as well as makeup application services.
- A pre-therapy footbath and relaxation lounge.
- An extensive retail section featuring the skincare, makeup and fragrance collections of Guerlain Paris.
- 2,300 square feet of fitness space, including a private locker room and high-end equipment.
“Treatments from Guerlain Spa will be transformed into a customized moment created for each guest, much like the overall experience our hotel guests expect,” said Tod Chambers, general manager at The Roosevelt New Orleans. “From the selection of a personal Guerlain scent to the expertise of Guerlain’s highly skilled beauty therapists, our guests and visitors will embark on a journey toward rejuvenation that can only be described as transformational.”
According to Stephanie King, Guerlain Spa brand manager, “Guerlain Spa at The Roosevelt New Orleans will offer five-star delivery of beauty and well-being treatments, including facial therapies, harmonizing massage, intensive hand and foot therapies, and dedicated men’s therapies. Each Guerlain experience is based on the signature Guerlain Methode and advanced skincare technologies. Full- and partial-day spa experiences and hotel accommodation retreat packages also will be available.”
The introduction of Guerlain Spa at the landmark New Orleans hotel is part of a 2007 agreement between Hilton Hotels Corporation; Guerlain, of French luxury-goods-group Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton; and global luxury spa operator Spa Chakra, Inc. The initiative’s first spa opened at the company’s flagship Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York in September 2008.
New Generations of New Orleanians to be Hosted in World-Famous Blue Room and Legendery Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS – Feb. 10, 2009 – Through more than a century of operation, The Roosevelt New Orleans served as the backdrop for many historic events and often made history in its own right. Key among plans to restore the property to its previous grandeur and appeal will be the reopening of the hotel’s famed Blue Room and legendary Sazerac Bar.
The smell of Eggs Benedict, musical notes from horns and pianos, and the sound of laughter from receptions soon will fill the air at The Roosevelt New Orleans’ world-renowned Blue Room, scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2009.
The Blue Room – legendary with locals, visitors and celebrities – also will return to the Sunday brunch circuit complete with delights such as mascarpone-stuffed French toast with house-made satsuma marmalade, boiled Gulf shrimp, a carving table featuring the finest roasted meats and much more.
Many big-band fans around the world will warmly recall turning to WWL radio at night and hearing the sounds of the Leon Kelner Orchestra, the house band, live from the Blue Room. With gleaming chandeliers and carefully restored architectural details, the renovated Blue Room once again will host live entertainment that appeals to all ages.
“The Blue Room is a household name not just in New Orleans but across the country and even around the globe,” said Mark Wilson, sales and marketing director at The Roosevelt New Orleans. “For decades, the Blue Room was a place for family and friends to enjoy good music and food and to celebrate life’s special occasions. We’re excited to reintroduce this pastime to new generations of New Orleanians and visitors.”
In the golden era of supper clubs from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Blue Room played host to some of the best-known names in entertainment and big bands – including Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich, and Sonny and Cher – as well as to elaborate floor shows.
In addition to hosting Sunday brunch and frequent entertainment, the Blue Room again will be available for the most special of special events, including weddings and carnival balls. For more information about booking the Blue Room for events, contact Earl Lizana, director of catering, at (504) 648-1200 or at email@example.com.
The Sazerac Bar, a Roosevelt landmark for decades, again will serve its signature Sazerac cocktail and Ramos Gin Fizz – both invented in New Orleans and made popular worldwide by The Roosevelt – among other delights. In addition to beverages that stimulate the palate, patrons again will be able to enjoy the Art Deco-style murals by artist Paul Ninas and woodwork once held in awe by visitors.
When The Roosevelt New Orleans reopens, it will offer 504 guest accommodations, of which 135 will be suites, and 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the spacious 20,000-square-foot Roosevelt Ballroom, 12,000-square-foot Crescent City Ballroom and the 7,000-square-foot Waldorf Astoria Ballroom, along with a total of 23 distinctive meeting and event rooms. For more information, visit www.waldorfastoriacollection.com.
Memories of the hotel’s meeting rooms, the Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar can be logged at the hotel’s blog site: www.therooseveltneworleans.com/blog.
“Many big-band fans around the world will warmly recall turning to WWL radio at night and hearing the sounds of the Leon Kelner Orchestra, the house band, live from the Blue Room. With gleaming chandeliers and carefully restored architectural details, the renovated Blue Room once again will host live entertainment that appeals to all ages.”
- Read the full article.
Leisure Group Travel
“The smell of Eggs Benedict, musical notes from horns and pianos, and the sound of laughter from receptions soon will fill the air at the Roosevelt New Orleans’ world-renowned Blue Room, scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2009.”
- Read the full article.
A recent news story in the New York Post recognizes New Orleans’ continued progress and highlights The Roosevelt New Orleans as one of the bright spots in the city’s recovery.
Read the article.
Zagat Survey released the results of its 2009 New Orleans travel survey recently. The guide, in its 20th edition, covers 704 of the city’s finest restaurants, nightspots, attractions and hotels, based on input from 3,877 local consumers.
‘The guide was created to help both visitors and locals rediscover the uniquely rich cultural and culinary assets of New Orleans,’ said Tim Zagat, Zagat Survey CEO. ‘In today’s economy, we’re anticipating an increase in domestic travel, and we encourage Americans to experience what this most distinctive city has to offer.’
In light of the economic storm battering the nation, tourists and locals alike appreciate the fact that New Orleans’ renowned restaurant industry offers one of the lowest average meal costs in the United States: $28.52 vs. the national average of $34.31. Despite the fact that 70% of respondents report spending more per meal compared to two years ago, 41% say they are eating out more often vs. only 17% who say they’re dining less often. New restaurants show the resurgent strength of the city’s dining scene.
Since 28% of surveyors in New Orleans named Creole and Cajun as their favorite cuisines, it is no surprise that Brigtsen’s (Contemp. Louisiana) won Top Food and Top Service, while Commander’s Palace (Creole) was voted Most Popular restaurant (as it has been every time it has been surveyed) and Top Decor to boot. Best Bets for a bite at top value are at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, Angelo Brocato and Morning Call.
In the three years since Hurricane Katrina, 97% of surveyors report their favorite restaurants are back in business. The French Quarter’s arty Cafe Sbisa and Uptown’s iconic Charlie’s Steak House finally reopened this year to the delight of loyal locals, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House returned to the city proper in fancy new digs at Harrah’s.
Showing the wide variety of cuisine available in New Orleans, there are a wealth of winners by food category, including American, Barbeque, Chinese, Cajun and nearly every region of the world.
Zagat New Orleans 2009 ($12.95), edited by Karen Hudes, Sharon Litwin, Todd A. Price and Mimi Read, is available wherever books are sold, and online at
HotelChatter has released an exclusive interview with Tod Chambers, general manager of The Roosevelt New Orleans. The interview includes information on food and drink venues to expect, including a new restaurant by John Besh.