3 Fleur
EntreePrice-16
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Mandina’s

Mandeville: 4240 La 22. 985-674-9883. Map.
Casual.
AE DS MC V
Website

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
For at least two generations of New Orleanians, the joys of restaurant dining were introduced in restaurants a lot like Mandina’s. Or at Mandina’s itself. Until the gourmet bistro era began in the 1980s, restaurants like this were in every New Orleans neighborhood. By then Mandina’s had become not only a rarity but seemed to be every Orleanian’s idea of what a neighborhood restaurant should be. Then Katrina came though and reminded us how important restaurants like this are to our cherished dining practices. The North Shore franchise of Mandina’s doesn’t have the pulse of the original, but it comes close to duplicating the food.

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WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
New Orleans neighborhood restaurants have not developed easily on the North Shore. Not even Mandina’s–whose original Canal Street restaurant defines the genre for a lot of people–has plenty of empty tables most nights. A lot of that has to do with its concealed location in the back of a strip mall, as well as the large size of the restaurant. It’s not because of the food, which for the most part duplicates the Canal Street flavors. In some cases, the Mandeville Mandina’s surpasses the original–notably in its seafood, which has always been the best part of Mandina’s menu. But the Mandeville branch isn’t especially consistent, and doesn’t have the full Canal Street menu.

Soft-shell crabs amandine at Mandina's in Mandeville.

Soft-shell crabs amandine at Mandina’s in Mandeville.

WHAT’S GOOD
Mandina’s cooks certain dishes so well that it’s easy to ignore the lame items. You come here for red beans and Italian sausage, a roast beef poor boy or beef stew, spaghetti and daube or a fried seafood platter. Soft-shell crabs amandine, oyster-artichoke soup. The pile of shrimp remoulade. Or a dozen or more other specialties. You leave happy. Especially if you had a drink or two at the bar while waiting for a table. Don’t start trouble by asking whether the trout is fresh or frozen, or whether that’s real turtle in the turtle soup. If it tastes good, it is good. And it does.

BACKSTORY
Mandina’s began in 1898 as a grocery store operated by Sebastian Mandina, a Sicilian immigrant. It evolved into a pool hall and sandwich shop. In 1932 Sebastian’s two sons turned the building into a restaurant, with their families living upstairs. Italian food was the mainstay and still is, but since the 1960s Mandina’s has been as much Creole as Italian. Hurricane Katrina put five feet of water into the building. Customers persuaded third-generation owner Tommy Mandina to repair the old place instead of building a new one. Waiting for that to be done (it took a year and a half). In the meantime, Mandina’s opened two franchises, one in Baton Rouge (now closed) and another in Mandeville. The latter started erratically, but its food has evolved into a pretty good approximation of that on Canal Street.

DINING ROOM
The Mandeville Mandina’s has almost nothing in common atmospherically with the Canal Street location. It’s a large room with an improbably high ceiling, a concrete floor that they ought to think about resurfacing, and nice big wooden tables and chairs. The bar has attracted a bigger crowd in recent times, with its sports-filled televisions. Service is by cheerful young men and women, with no old-timers.

FULL ONLINE MENU

BEST DISHES
Starters
Eggplant sticks, marinara
Fried calamari
Shrimp remoulade
Shrimp cocktail
Turtle soup
Seafood gumbo
Oyster and artichoke soup
Italian salad

Entrees
Filet mignon
Hamburger steak
Ribeye steak
Broiled or fried chicken
Fried oyster, shrimp, trout, catfish, soft-shell crab or combo platters
»Trout meuniere or amandine
»Catfish meuniere or amandine
»Soft shell crab meuniere or amandine
Grilled shrimp over pasta bordelaise
Meatballs, italian sausage, or panneed veal with spaghetti
Veal or chicken parmesan and spaghetti

Sandwiches
Fried oyster, catfish, shrimp, soft shell crab, or trout poor boy
Grilled shrimp poor boy
Meatball poor boy
Hot roast beef poor boy
Italian sausage poor boy
Club sandwich
Muffuletta on French bread

Desserts
Cup custard
Bread pudding
Cheesecake

FOR BEST RESULTS
Think of the place as a seafood restaurant. The trout amandine can rival the best in town, and the shrimp remoulade is as good as it is ample. It is very tempting to stuff yourself with the complimentary hot, buttery garlic bread: ease back.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The soups here are not as good as the versions on Canal Street, despite the fact that they’re made from the same recipes. Someday, they will have to start serving the oyster-artichoke soup more often.

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
  • Consistency +2
  • Service+2
  • Value +2
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness
  • Local Color +1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Open Sunday lunch
  • Open Monday lunch
  • Open all afternoon
  • Historic
  • Unusually large servings
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted

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