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Going to Jazz Fest?

New Orleans

Stray from the Fairgrounds to hit the hottest gastronaut night-nabe in the city: Bywater

The fest this year runs on the weekends of April 26th-28th and May 2nd-5th. Just south of the French Quarter and the Marigny Triangle–and a bike ride from the Jazz & Heritage Fairgrounds–Bywater is the place to be when the day is done. I hate to say this, but it’s the Williamsburg of New Orleans (sans the pretentions). Among a dozen or more new bars and bistros, there’s Booty’s and Mariza, the latter in the super-cool Rice Mill Lofts (see “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL “ image) along the train tracks coasting the river. Here’s two review-profiles of the culinary joints there, the low and the high, culled from the Times-Picayune website, nola.com.

Booty’s Street Food800 Louisa St., 504.266.2887 – This world street food-themed restaurant threw open its doors in the Bywater. The menu touches down in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Puerto Rico and other point around the globe, with dishes such as papadum lentil crisps with mirliton coconut curry, Thai hand rolls with crispy lemongrass shrimp, and yuca mofongo with pickled peppers. Chef Greg Fonseca’s Thai hand rolls sealed the deal for the owners, when they were kicking around the street food concept. There’s also a banh mi with pork belly, meatballs, pickles and house mayo. “There are a lot of banh mi in town, but this one is really, really good,” says Nick Vivion, who owns Booty’s with Kevin Farrell. The restaurant, whose front of the house and bar is the domain of Jeremy JF Thompson, is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.

Chef Ian Schnoebelen describes Mariza, his new restaurant in Bywater’s Rice Mill Lofts, as “Italian-inspired.” The description fits both the food and the restaurant’s conception, considering the decision to open the place was made on an airplane as he and Laurie Casebonne were flying to Italy. About two weeks before their trip, Sean Cummings, the developer behind the Rice Mill, a coolly industrial residential complex on the river, approached Schnoebelen and Casebonne. The two are the owners of Iris, the upscale, eclectic restaurant inside the Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter. “We had no plans to open a second restaurant,” Schnoebelen said. “But we looked at the space and thought, ‘Wow, what a beautiful place.’ Sitting on the plane, two weeks later, we got to talking about it and realized we couldn’t turn it down.”

The restaurant was conceived as a Bywater neighborhood gathering spot with a raw bar, salumi plates and a relaxed attitude. The owners live in the area. “I’m biking to Iris and walking to Mariza,” Schnoebelen said. The raw bar will feature gulf oysters, yellowfin tuna and red snapper carpaccio and a raw vegetable salad with local radishes, baby carrots and sprouts. The inspiration for the raw bar came from a restaurant in Venice. “It had no written menu,” Schnoebelen said. “The chef just told you what they had, and it was only like five things.”

Mariza does have a written menu, and it includes salumi and cheese plates,  housemade pastas, such as a duck ragout pappardelle, a short rib rigatoni and a vegetable lasagna, and meat and vegetarian pizzas.

Pastas fall in the $8-$9 range, while the pizzas are $10-$12 and the entrees, $14-$17. All of the meats and the vast majority of the produce are local. “It’s hard to get local celery,” the chef joked, but “I’m trying to keep it as close as possible.” Much about Mariza may be familiar to fans of Iris, even though that restaurant has a more globetrotting menu. “I’ve been doing this kind of food for a while. I like to cook what I like to eat,” Schnoebelen said. “I’ve been doing dry-cured and aged Italian-style meats for about three years.”

With Mariza, they’re stretching out in a new direction. As for the restaurant’s name, it was just something the owners liked the sound of. “It’s not even Italian,” Schnoebelen said. “We just wanted a simple one-word name, and I think the Z is cool.”

2900 Chartres St., 504.598.5700

It will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.

marizaneworleans.com

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