DiMartino's started out as a specialist in the muffuletta, the iconic New Orleans Italian sandwich. It was a good idea, and while DiMartino's version of it has never been among the top two or three, it was consistently well made. Over time the menu expanded to include most of the other New Orleans basics: poor boys, red beans and rice, seafood platters, and Italian pasta dishes.
Peter DiMartino must have felt that he was on the verge of something big when he opened his first shop in 1975. He planned to market muffulettas the way fast-food places sell hamburgers--perhaps even coast to coast. What he proved was that muffulettas are too distinctive and good to boom in the mainstream. This didn't keep him from doing well with them, as he opened and closed locations here and there around town. He has four of them now.
Particularly in the newest DiMartino's in Covington, these are nicer-looking restaurants than one expects. A white-tablecloth operation could move in without much renovation. This makes the fast-food-style service style stick out like a sore thumb. Ordering at the counter from a menu posted on a wall doesn't fit in here, particularly if you're going for one of the platters. They already have a wait staff in place; why they don't do table service is beyond me.
The Covington DiMartino's runs excellent fish specials at two widely disparate prices. The cheap one is made with tilapia and is to be avoided.