Dabney LoCicero, “the local boy,” as he calls himself, is one of the most beloved and well-known chefs in New Orleans. But you probably know him as Chef Duke, proprietor of Cafe Giovanni, a delicious Italian restaurant in the French Quarter, and one of the best of the Creole-Italians in the city. For 27 years, the area of Decatur at Canal smelled great, because inside the door marked Cafe Giovanni was really lusty and heart-warming Italian food. Oysters Giovanni was a knockout, but there was also a decadent garlic bread that came in a brick loaf, great Canneloni, an outstanding bruschetta, and best of all, to me anyway, real opera singers. And much more.
Duke came to Cafe Giovanni by way of Vegas, but mostly Houston, where he worked at the legendary Tony’s. Back home in New Orleans, he paired up with the late Mr. John Santopadre,
(yes, of the steakhouse with his name, and Desi Vega, and Paul Varisco) to open Cafe Giovanni.
But the daily grind of working and living so far away from the late-night business, and disenchantment with the more infamous side of New Orleans caused Duke to close on Decatur. After a brief stint at N’Tini’s on the Northshore where he lives, (that restaurant’s heydays), Duke is back home again, setting up shop close to where he lived as a kid.
A block or two from Impastato’s, the building that housed the old Cello’s will soon reopen as Dab’s, A New Orleans Bistro. It will be the culmination of a lifetime in the business. A casual place for relaxed and fun eating. You’ll see a bit of the old regulars from the menu at Giovanni. Some of my favorite oysters anywhere, the fantastic Oysters Giovanni, and the garlic bread, the Bolognese, and meatballs and spaghetti. Eggplant LoCicero will also be at the new place, and the stuffed avocado, along with seafood cakes and shrimp and grits. But also new things, like a Duke Burger and a poke bowl. Salads, jambalaya. But will there be opera singers?
Dab’s A New Orleans Bistrot will be open as soon as Jefferson Parish gives him the go-ahead. Sometime late September.
We’re looking forward to this one.
Dab’s A New Orleans Bistro
3401 N. Hullen Metairie