3 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayNo Lunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayNo Lunch Saturday
DinnerNo Dinner SundayNo Dinner MondayNo Dinner TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Dinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Tony Mandina’s

Gretna: 1915 Pratt. 504-362-2010. Map.
Casual
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Historically, the best restaurants on the West Bank have been invisible. This creates the illusion that there aren’t any great eateries over the river. There aren’t many, but they have to be sought out. Tony Mandina’s is a particularly pleasant such discovery. Much liked by regulars but unknown among others, its food and surroundings are much nicer than one expects.

WHAT’S GOOD
The menu is tuned to the standard New Orleans-Sicilian-Italian palate, with no surprises in content. It is, however, better than one expects. Pasta with red sauces, white sauces, or olive oil sauces, accompanied by veal and chicken scaloppine (most of it panneed) or seafood. And stuff like lasagna. A large hamburger steak–a nearly-extinct dish elsewhere–is a specialty.

BACKSTORY
Tony and Grace Mandina opened the restaurant in 1982. Although there’s no connection with Mandina’s on Canal Street, the famous name couldn’t have hurt. The place was popular from the beginning, particularly among West Bank groups who needed a nice-looking place for lunch. As the Mandinas’ children grew up and became involved, the restaurant has improved, with a much warmer style than in its early years.

DINING ROOM
No restaurant shows a stronger contrast between its environs and its dining room. The old suburban neighborhood looks unpromising for fine dining. But crossing the threshold is like passing through an atmosphere warp into a classy hotel bistro. The place even looks bigger than it did from the outside. At dinner, a highly listenable pianist noodles all night long. Service is performed well by bright young servers, some of home are family.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Starters
»Stuffed artichoke
»Fried calamari
»Fried eggplant
Mini peppers with shrimp stuffing
Mozzarella cheese sticks
»Turtle soup
Seafood gumbo
»Cream of artichoke soup
»Italian salad
Grilled chicken Caesar salad
Entrees
Meatballs or Italian sausage with pasta marinara
Veal, chicken or eggplant parmigiana
»Lasagne
»Braciolone
Veal Blake Anthony (panneed veal, fettuccine alfredo)
Panneed veal bordelaise
»Chicken Lindsey Grace (panneed, pasta alfredo)
»Grilled chicken bordelaise
Hamburger steak
»Eggplant Dominic Jude (layered with shrimp and crabmeat alfredo)
Shrimp Julia Grace (fried, marinara, mozzarella)
»Shrimp Mandina (like barbecue shrimp)
Shrimp fettuccine Alfredo
»Shrimp, crabmeat and veal classico (cream sauce)
Fried shrimp
Fried catfish
Desserts
»Homemade bread pudding with rum sauce
Strawberry shortcake cheesecake
Italian ice cream
Dark chocolate ecstasy cake

FOR BEST RESULTS
The red sauce is thick, sweet, and familiar, but the cream and herbal sauces are better. If you are fantastically hungry, the braciolone–a dish so time-consuming that few restaurants serve it–will serve you well. Most appetizers are big enough to share.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The restaurant has been packed at every lunch I’ve had there, and the wait staff is under enough stress to get testy at times.

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

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Live music every night
  • Romantic
  • Good for business meetings
  • Many private rooms
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • No reservations

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
The restaurant’s slogan is “If you can find it!” Even with the help of a tall sign visible from the elevated West Bank Expressway, navigation to the place–through a neighborhood you are not likely to visit for any other reason–is a challenge. (It’s probably best to get on the service road right after coming off the bridge.) A doorman directs you to what will probably be a non-intuitive parking space, and then ushers you into a beautiful restaurant.

What the food lacks in polish it makes up for in nostalgic comfort, even if you have a preference for more modern styles of Italian cookery. It’s good enough to have you thinking about what you’re going to try next time.


1 Readers Commented

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  1. phil on June 22, 2014

    My wife and I went to Tony Mandina’s Saturday night for my birthday dinner (73). I had Turtle Soup and the Braciolone (spelled “Brociolone” on the menu) with an angel hair pasta with a red sauce on the side, and my wife had a large Tony Mandina’s Italian Salad. However, that night, the soup and the Braciolone were barely warm, and the meat in the Braciolone was very tough, requiring much effort to slice it. The pasta seemed as though it had spent too much time sitting on the counter waiting to be sent out because it, too, was barely warm and a little congealed. On the other hand, the flavor was still there and I did eat about half of it, and my wife said her salad was very good. Hopefully, that meal was an aberration and the next one will be very good. The waiter was helpful and attentive, and I left the full tip. This is a place we’ve been to several times in the past; it’s always been good, and we’ll probably go back again.

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