Those undertaking the massive job of rebuilding St. Bernard Parish now have one of the communityÕs iconic eateries back to help gird them for the task. Rocky & CarloÕs Restaurant and Bar (613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette, 279-8323) reopened on Feb. 8, one of only a handful of restaurants to reopen in Chalmette after Hurricane Katrina and certainly the townÕs best known. The restaurant has been thoroughly rebuilt but keeps the same basic design, with a long bar and a cafeteria-style counter where orders are placed and prepared. As always, Rocky & CarloÕs serves po-boys and Italian dishes in portions that are large enough to qualify as family style but are in fact intended for just one person. The restaurant was first opened in 1965 by Rocky Tommaseo and Carlo Gioe, and their families still run the place.
La Vita Opens
A new pizza restaurant called La Vita (3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-0077; www.lavitapizza.com ) opened in the former Faubourg St. John location of Gabrielle Restaurant. La Vita keeps late hours, serving pizzas, salads, pasta dishes and paninis daily from 11 a.m. to midnight and later on weekends. The restaurant also serves breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. on weekends. The dcor makes extensive use of earthy colors and artfully recycled building materials, such as old window frames. There is also an outdoor seating area on Esplanade Avenue. La Vita was opened by Fatma Aydin, who has had a hand in many casual local restaurants since moving here from Turkey as a college student 20 years ago (see ÒFully Vested,Ó July 4, 2006). Meanwhile, Gabrielle proprietors Greg and Mary Sonnier are trying to reopen their restaurant in a former reception hall on Henry Clay Avenue. The plan has met with fierce opposition from some neighbors and support from others. It is not yet clear if the restaurant will open there.
The Louisiana Oyster Jubilee (www.oysterjubilee.com), a series of events designed to promote the stateÕs abundant bivalve harvest, will host an oyster-shucking competition on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Bourbon Street park known as New Orleans Musical Legends Park (311 Bourbon St., 293-2617; www.neworleansmusicallegends.com). Local professional oyster shuckers will compete for the title of the JubileeÕs Champion Oyster Shucker. There will also be an oyster-eating contest at the park, with local celebrities competing to see who can eat the most oysters in one minute. The event is co-hosted by the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, an industry group, and by the nonprofit that runs the Musical Legends Park, which has statues of the local performers Fats Domino, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt and Chris Owens. Ñ McNulty