From our rented apartment in the French Quarter, we crossed over Canal to the Roosevelt Hotel. It was 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night and luckily I had the foresight to make reservations.
Fortunately after arriving we were seated fairly quickly, unfortunately we were given an uneven table in the front of the house. The table rocked like a peg-leg pirate and a cold draft blew through anytime someone opened the door, but a manager fixed the wobbly table and we donned our coats to eat.
Domencia sparked my curiosity because it’s a John Besh restaurant and appeared in a Serious Eats article about where to find pizza in Louisiana. I briefly scanned the menu with a one track mind. The dishes are categorized in a traditional Italian style (antipasti, primi, secondi, dolci, etc.) and I momentarily considered the shrimp and crab cannelloni, but focused on the list of pizzas.
It took awhile to place our order and we had to track down our waitress for bread and dipping oil on a separate occasions. Ben and I chose to share a large Caesar salad and two pizzas, one Margherita and one Calabrese. Our friends ordered a salad, pizza and spaghetti.
We received our “large” Caesar salad which was hardly dressed, lacked any strong flavors of lemon, garlic or anchovies, and was quite a small portion. Salad kits from the grocery store might be better.
An inordinate amount of time passed before we received our food and I was starting to take the forgetfulness personally.
When our pizzas were served I nearly inhaled the whole Pizza Margherita before Ben got his half. It was intoxicating, perhaps the closest version to Naples I’ve had outside of Italy. The crust was chewy, bubbly and had a nice char. It was simply topped with a slightly sweet tomato sauce, pockets of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. Next time I would ask for double cheese and keep it all to myself.
The Pizza Calabrese was also good, topped with spicy salami, capers (eh) and green olives, but the pure flavors of the Pizza Margherita shone through like bright sunshine after a rainstorm. That may not make sense, but it was sure fun to write. Thankfully the pizzas more than made up for the salad.
Our water glasses ran dry for most of the meal and eventually we had to corner our waitress for the bill. I’ll chalk up the service to a busy weekend night and poor oversight. At least she brought us these terrific chocolate (espresso?) cookies for dessert. My girlfriend and I thought about asking for more and stuffing them in our purses to snack on later, but we refrained.
Domenica was not quite what I anticipated. When observing the clientele at the bar I felt under dressed and the drink menu includes a $25 beer. (Ben was tempted for about two seconds.) The pizza was fabulous, but with so many good restaurants around New Orleans maybe once was enough. As for John Besh, hopefully one day I’ll see him at August.
123 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA 70112