Marigny: 611 Frenchmen. 504-948-3800. Map.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Assemble a menu of familiar dishes, serve them in large portions, and charge a noticeably below-average price. . . and you may have a restaurant phenom on your hands. At the very least, your establishment will be busy all the time. Topic A at Adolfo’s: how hard it is to get a table without a long wait. Topic B: why don’t they take credit cards? (Answer: they don’t have to. When you serve very filling platters at low prices, you can do anything you want.)
Here is a slight departure from the New Orleans-style Italian menu. All the dishes are familiar, even if the names aren’t. The typical dish here has the main ingredients flooded in one or two of a dozen or so sauces. These range from pretty good to a bit much. Eye appeal is not part of most of the recipes, but who cares when they feed you so much, right?
When the Marigny music and dining corridor was just getting started on Frenchmen Street (1990s), Chef Alberto Rodriguez opened a funny but excellent little Italian cafe named for himself right in the middle of it. After a few years he moved Uptown and later retired. Adolfo’s took over his old place in 2000, cooking food in the same spirit. It caught on among the young Marigny habitues, who spread the word. Instant phenom!
A peculiar, ramshackle, one-flight-up dining room is furnished with tables made out of old treadle sewing machines and other highly miscellaneous fixtures. No two lines are either parallel or meet at a right angle. It’s overcrowded and uncomfortable, a feeling exacerbated by that of being rushed. None of this seems to bother the faithful.
»Oysters with Pernod and spinach
»Fried eggplant, crabmeat, capers
Eggplant and Italian sausage, marinara
Cannelloni with crabmeat and corn
Cannelloni with spinach and cheese
»Cannelloni with spinach and Italian sausage
Soup of the day
Mussels marinara, pasta
Pasta with shrimp, oysters, spinach, lemon butter
Pasta with Italian sausage
Shrimp or crawfish or both, pasta Alfredo or marinara
Clams with pasta Alfredo or marinara
»Pasta primavera (vegetables, olive oil, garlic)
Pasta and eggplant Parmigiana
Fish Michelle (shrimp, crawfish)
»Fish Cruz (crabmeat, capers)
Fish Renee (oysters, spinach, sherry)
Fish Sean (clams and shrimp, marinara)
Fish Nick (lemon butter)
FishTony (spinach, lemon, herbs, olive oil)
»Fish Missy (crabmeat, capers, spinach, lemon)
Veal Ocean(shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat, capers)
Veal Frances (shrimp, artichoke hearts)
»Veal Scotty (piccata, artichokes, capers)
Veal Scacie (spinach, lemon)
Veal pannee, marinara
Chicken Vincent (cream sauce with tasso)
Chicken Brenda (spinach and butter)
»Chicken Maxine (Creole mustard cream sauce)
Chicken Tyler (piccata, lemon butter, artichokes)
»Steak Manny (peppercorn cream sauce with rum)
Steak Madrina, with shrimp scampi
Steak Labarca (mushroom butter sauce)
FOR BEST RESULTS
One can construct a good meal from the appetizer section alone. Be sure to find out what the fish of the day is before you order it. Some species are better than others.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Almost any dish would be improved here by having the amount of sauce cut back by about a third, but that would start a riot among the regulars. The cash-only policy, even with the ATM in house, is offensive.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Value +1
- Attitude -1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +1
- Open Sunday dinner
- Open Monday dinner
- Unusually large servings
- No reservations