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Not Your Typical Fast Food 

In most people's minds, the words "fast food" conjure images of food thrown together quickly and served up in a paper bag with emphasis more on speed than on the nutritional value and elegance of the food.

At Fortissimo Food and Wine Emporium (3331 St. Charles Ave., 899-5313), however, the words can take on a whole new meaning. Customers will be served quickly, but they will have a wealth of dining options, and the quality of the food is always that of a fine restaurant.

"It's a little bit neighborhood restaurant, a little mom-and-pop and a little gourmet to go mixed together," says Timothy Bordenze, chef and general manager at Fortissimo. "We wear a lot of hats."

The establishment offers continental breakfast on weekdays and a full-fledged brunch "along the lines you'd find at a nice hotel," with dishes such as eggs Benedict and crab fritatoes, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Satuday and Sunday, he says. Dine-in lunches on weekdays include deli-style cuisine, with soups, salads and sandwiches as well as blue plate hot lunch specials and caters to the business lunch crowd. Dinner is mostly gourmet-to-go fare.

"We have heated cases that we fill up with entrees a la carte," the chef says. "Unlike other places, these are hot and ready to go. They are dishes like grilled tuna steaks with pineapple chutney on top, chicken cordon bleu, a couple of pasta dishes, a couple of soup dishes and vegetables. Mostly these are things people take home and eat right away."

The business also offers frozen dishes such as crawfish bread, vegetable lasagna, crab-stuffed manicotti and other entrees. It sells authentic Italian gelato, vinegars, olives, pastas, deli meats sliced to order and more in its grocery section.

As its name implies, the emporium also stocks a vast selection of wines and can advise customers about appropriate pairings with different dishes. "We probably have 200 to 300 labels (of wines)," Bordenaze says. "It's a good selection for most people looking for wine to pair or to take over to people's houses for dinner."

Fortissimo also is a full-service caterer specializing in seated dinners for up to 150 and cocktail parties or receptions with guest lists up to 350. There isn't a standard catering menu, Bordenaze says, "I just sit down with the person and what we prepare depends on the taste of the person, the time of year and how late the party will go. It's totally tailored to them."

The St. Charles Avenue shop itself is a spacious facility that has ample cloth-covered tables for those who wish to dine in, a couple of patio tables for dining al fresco and even space for the business to grow. With lots of regular customers, Bordenaze believes it will.

"We have people who come in three times a week or more," he says. "For breakfast on weekends, we'll see the same people two days in a row."

The secret, he believes, is a staff that tries to provide the best food it can very quickly and for good prices. The efforts include a changing range of choices for nightly meals, a selection of scrumptious desserts, lots of beverages and a muffaletta the size of a round two-layer cake.

"My philosophy is just to give the best of everything we have," Bordenaze says. "I consider that when I make gumbo, it's the best gumbo in town; our bread pudding is the best bread pudding in town. We try to make every single thing we make here excellent."

Caring Chiropractors

Mix Family Chiropractic
(7942 Hwy. 23, Suite B, Belle Chasse, 393-8675) this week is offering free spinal health screenings, consultations and chiropractic exams to local fire, police, military and emergency workers.

Dr. Matthew Mix, whose clinic is donating the free services through Friday, says his practice is among thousands of chiropractors nationwide donating services as part of Lifesaver's Appreciation Week. Such care, he says, helps the workers to maintain optimum condition, work pain free and have better reaction time, according to a study conducted by the New Zealand School of Chiropractic. Mix also will hold a health talk about chiropractic care at 7 p.m. Thursday at his Belle Chasse clinic.


Cool Kudos


MVW Gallery
(3652 Magazine St., 891-4122; www.mvwgallery.com), owned by jewelry and home decor designer Mary Viola Walker, has been spotlighted in the "Cool Stores" section of In Store magazine's May issue. The article touts the décor of the store, which was designed by Walker, as well as the ambience and "Southern hospitality," such as offering shoppers wine, coffee, tea or champagne and places to sit and read magazines that customers enjoy there.

MVW offers the modern jewelry creations of Walker as well as a host of home decorating accessories, Walker-designed handbags and art. The gallery is housed in a tradtional Uptown residence transformed into a retail space that has retained the welcoming attitude and elegance of a home.

click to enlarge General manager and Chef Timothy Bordenaze - stands beside the hot foods ready for customers' - dinner tables at Fortissimo Food and Wine - Emporium.
  • General manager and Chef Timothy Bordenaze stands beside the hot foods ready for customers' dinner tables at Fortissimo Food and Wine Emporium.
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