SOMETIMES you walk into a restaurant and just know that you’re going to have a good time. Such was the case on a recent Thursday night in New Orleans, when Glass visited the dazzling Italian-focused eatery, Josephine Estelle. Situated inside the lively Ace Hotel, the restaurant resides in a central spot on the ground floor and manages to exude both grandeur and informality. It also doesn’t hurt that the osteria occupies an original 1928 Art Deco building, which is difficult to not be impressed by.
Josephine Estelle in New Orleans. Photograph: Fran Parente
It’s a pretty spectacular sight: gorgeous ceiling lights, sleek velvet banquettes, 1940s palmetto murals salvaged from the New Orleans Opera House, terrazzo-tiled floors, a marble-topped bar … It goes on. And thankfully the food is on par with the wonderful aesthetics and ambience.
The dining room at Josephine Estelle. Photograph: Fran Parente
James Beard Award-nominated chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman have created a thoroughly enjoyable menu that is grounded by classic Italian recipes, but also touch on the culinary history of the American South. A nice variety of charcuterie and cheese from local suppliers are available, as well as a solid antipasta selection. The next part of the menu is split into pastas (homemade, of course) and main dishes, the bulk of which consist of meat and fish options – on our visit we spotted scallops, duck breast and a flat-iron steak.
Striking wall murals. Photograph: Fran Parente
Glass enjoyed a salad of fried brussels sprouts to start, followed by a bowl of bucatini and a perfectly cooked piece of swordfish. All dishes were extremely generous in size, and the flavours felt authentic. The pasta, which came dressed in a classic Amatriciana sauce, had that superbly rich quality to it which is essential. The fish was of the highest quality, a truly meaty texture that still flaked with ease. To end the meal, we chose the peanut butter pie budino – a glass oozing full of caramel ganache, graham cracker, peanut butter and whipped cream cheese. Our waitress informed us that this was perhaps the restaurant’s most popular dessert. It was a pudding of pure happiness and delight.
Throw in charming and informed members of staff, plus an excellent playlist, and you can see why Josephine Estelle is the best place to spend an evening.
by Derby Jones
Josephine Estelle, 600 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Tel: +1 504 930 3070
Follow Josephine Estelle on Instagram.