It's commonplace to find Italian influences on contemporary Creole menus, where ravioli and remoulade often share the page. But the new menu at Dick & Jenny's (4501 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-894-9880; www.dickandjennys.com), which debuts this week, has undergone an extensive Italianization that gives it more of a dual identity.
Local restaurateurs Kelly Barker and Cristiano Raffignone recently purchased Dick & Jenny's. Barker hails from Houma, and Raffignone is from Liguria, Italy. In 2000, the couple opened Cristiano Ristorante in Houma to showcase his native cooking in her hometown. In 2003, they bought Martinique Bistro (5908 Magazine St., 504-891-8495; www.martiniquebistro.com) and earlier this year, they staged a weekly pop-up at Martinique Bistro featuring Italian dishes from Cristiano. Raffignone says feedback from diners convinced them to revamp Dick & Jenny's menu with similar dishes.
Cristiano chef Lindsay Mason and Dick & Jenny's chef Stacy Hall worked together on the new menu, which melds some of Dick & Jenny's contemporary Creole bestsellers with Cristiano's Italian dishes. Fried oysters with remoulade and coleslaw and fried green tomatoes with crabmeat are still on the appetizer list, but now there's also calamari, beef carpaccio and Caprese salad. Osso buco, veal piccata and pappardelle with pulled duck confit are some of the new entrees listed alongside beef short ribs with grits and gravy, bouillabaisse and stuffed pork loin.
The namesake husband-and-wife team of Jennifer and Richard Benz opened Dick & Jenny's in 1999 in a bargeboard cottage. They sold it in 2006 to a group led by some of their former employees. Earlier this year, Raffignone and his wife bought it.
Raffignone says they are preserving the restaurant's current ambience.
Dick & Jenny's serves lunch Tuesday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. Reservations are accepted.