500BestSquareItalian Salad @ Tessie’s Place

Out-of-town reader of Italian extraction, please listen! All around New Orleans for several generations, neighborhood Italian restaurants owned by thoroughly Italian people have included on their menus something they call a “wop salad.” The word was never considered a slur when used in this context. It’s derived from the Sicilian dialect word “guappo,” which is defined as a well-groomed, seemingly urbane but fun-loving young man. A guappo salad is a collection of olives, peppers, celery, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and lettuce with a garlicky vinaigrette. Only three restaurants still use the old name on their menus. But all such restaurants still offer the same thing under the name “Italian salad.” A lot of customers (most of them Italian) still ask for it by the old name. This one, from a hard-to-find cafe with roots going back to the 1940s, makes it at least as well as anyone else.

Tessie’s Place. Metairie: 116 N Woodlawn Dr. 504-835-8377.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

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  1. Leon Reiss on April 1, 2015

    Nobody mentions it but Tessies was originally on Jefferson Hwy, It was then Club 90. They has great Fried Chicken. I used to eat lunch there 2-3 times a week. Made great Poboys too. My office was 3 blocks away.

    Indeed I do mention that. . . here is the “Backstory” section of the full review of Tessie’s online:

    Tessie’s is the reincarnation of a 1940s Jefferson Highway roadhouse called the Club 90, which had a long-standing record of good poor boys and fried chicken when it closed in the 1970s. The standards of that era are all still in place. This has downsides (a lack of vivid freshness) as well as upsides (some great lost flavors are here).

    I lived two blocks away from the place.