Restaurants around town were busy getting ready for the Final Four last week, but the preparations at Eleven79 (1179 Annunciation St., 299-1179; www.eleven79.com) were a little more urgent than most.
The Italian restaurant closed in the first week of March after a fire damaged the property. Proprietor Joe Segreto says his crew raced to finish repairs and reopen in time for the Final Four weekend.
A veteran of the local restaurant industry, Segreto opened Eleven79 in 2000, naming it for its address on Annunciation Street. The building sits in the shadow of the Crescent City Connection, and with its exposed brick walls, dark wood framing, heavy shutters and mellow lighting, it has the ambience of a private lair. That mood is never more evident than during its happy hour (5 p.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Thu.), when the bar is filled with people sipping Italian reds and helping themselves to the table of complimentary antipasti set in the corner.
The kitchen is particularly strong in Sicilian dishes, pastas and veal, and the list of specials brings in enough Gulf seafood to give the place Creole-Italian credentials.