Antonio's Wine Cellar (601 Terry Pkwy., Terrytown, 361-1332) and Fortissimo (3331 St. Charles Ave., 899-5313) are two relatively new spots for casual dining, wine browsing and Euro-gourmet food product shopping. Last week, I ducked into both. Antonio's offers sit-down table service of Italian and New Orleans specialties, a humidor and wine tastings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. I can't vouch for the tastings, but Antonio's selection of bottles is substantial. While Fortissimo's wine options are more cosmetic so far, one snack revealed some respectable sweet potato fries.
I've been hearing as much about wine and spirits as about food lately. This time it's the summer Bloody Mary menu in the Ritz-Carlton's French Quarter Bar (921 Canal St., 524-1331). Among others are the Bloody Bayou, with Tabasco, crawfish and tomatillo, and the Bloody Big Easy spiked with Creole spice and garnished with an oyster shooter and pickled asparagus.
Nearby, at the Palace Café (605 Canal St., 523-1661) and Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (716 Iberville St., 522-2467), the downtown lunch crowd will strike deals if we get an unexpected cold front. Until Sept. 7, take the highest temperature from the previous day, insert a decimal point between the two numbers and add a zero to the end. That's the price of the daily lunch special. For example, a 92-degree high yields a lunch special priced at $9.20. Once it reaches 100 degrees, bring your own lunch and stay at the office.
Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021) might be the swankest venue yet for a Single Gourmet dinner -- and during the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, no less. Secure your spot for the Friday, July 13, dinner by calling 885-1831. And hope they spare no oysters en brochette.