#8 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries
Sal and Judy’s
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
It doesn’t matter much who you are. It’s going to be tough getting a table at Sal and Judy’s on moment’s notice. That’s even if you know Sal. Everybody knows Sal. Sal is one of the nicest guys in the restaurant business. He comes across as an Italian immigrant who hasn’t quite figured things out, letting his customers fill him in (some of them talking in a fake Italian accent. But in reality Sal is one of the most savvy restaurateurs around. Nobody except Paul Prudhomme or Emeril can match his success in marketing his sauces, salad dressings, seasonings, and olive oil, which are everywhere in New Orleans supermarkets. (They’re successful largely because they really duplicate the flavors served in the restaurant.) Meanwhile, the food in house is worth a trip across the lake and the trouble of making a reservation well in advance. (Two or more weeks for weekend seatings.)
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The most popular white-tablecloth restaurant on the North Shore got that way by serving terrific New Orleans-Italian food in tremendous portions, at prices so low it makes one wonder how the place turns a profit. That reputation was set during the restaurant’s first two decades, in a wreck of a building in the middle of nowhere. Its much more atmospheric current quarters cement the relationship with the regulars who keep the place packed all the time.
Sal and Judy’s makes a lot of friends with its large portions at low prices. But there is never a quality gap. Particularly in the seafood department, Sal Impastato’s cooking is exciting. His pasta dishes (especially those involving shrimp and crabmeat) are light and perfect. First-class sauces make everything a little bit better still.
Sal Impastato and his brother Joe (who runs Impastato’s in Metairie and Madisonville) came to New Orleans from their native Sicily when they were in their late teens. They worked for–and learned a lot from–Jimmy Moran, at his La Louisiane in the French Quarter. The brothers went their separate ways in 1974, each opening his own restaurant, but continuing to help each other–which they still do. Joe, who calls Sal the chef in the family, makes the pasta for both restaurants, and Sal makes the sauces. Sal’s place was so small and deep in the North Shore woods that it had to be great to survive. It was, and it did. Judy, Sal’s ex-wife, left to open other restaurants.
Two well-furnished dining rooms provide only a few more seats than the old shack did, but the restaurant seems much more spacious and certainly more comfortable, albeit in a suburban style. Sal is always roaming around the dining room, but he spend most of his time cooking, as the splattered condition of his shirt and apron amply prove.
FULL ONLINE MENU
Baked oysters Cinisi (mushrooms, Italian sausage, garlic, bread crumbs)
Crab claws, cream sauce
Crabmeat au gratin
Spaghetti aglio olio, grilled Italian sausage, onions and bell peppers
Braciolone (round steak stuffed with bread crumbs, Parmesan, italian sausage, ground beef, garlic)
Cannelloni (stuffed with chopped veal, cheese; red and cream sauces)
Spaghetti bordelaise and oysters
Spiedini (pork loin stuffed with ham, provolone, bread crumbs, tomato, mushrooms)
Soft shell crab
Speckled trout prepared numerous ways
Pies with ice cream
FOR BEST RESULTS
Appetizers here are big enough for two, or to serve as an entree. Order one course less than you normally would, to adjust for this. The restaurant’s printed menu displays much less than the entire range of the kitchen. Press the server on what specials might be available beyond what he or she told you about. Just ask if you want something a little offbeat. Sal can cook anything.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
They need to use bigger plates, because the food goes all the way to the edge in many cases.
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
- Value +3
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Local Color +1
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon Sunday only
- Unusually large servings
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations recommended