The restaurant has survived both a move and a hurricane. The original location was in the French Quarter on Decatur Street, but after seven years and getting the boot to make way for an in-coming timeshare condominium, the Montalbanos made the move out to Bucktown. The second location weathered damage from Katrina, including the loss of its roof, but re-opened the following December.
'It was a great move," says Montalbano, who helped his father open the restaurant's original location when he was just out of high school. '[But] we didn't think so back then, because we lost all our customers and clientele in the French Quarter."
Over the past two years, however, Montalbano has warmed up to the new neighborhood. He points out that the Bucktown Two Tony's is closer to his home and free of the hassles that can come with French Quarter nightlife. And the new location, which has only 'a little service bar with a couple of stools," compared to the original's mostly bar business, has remained a decidedly non-touristy place.
'We're 95-plus percent local business," he says. 'The majority of our customers are drawn from pretty nearby," from Metairie, the Lakefront and Lakeview.
The menu is half seafood " including Cajun- and Creole-inspired dishes " and half Italian, a combination that is a reflection of the two Tonys' roots. Montalbano's entire family is Italian (his grandparents are from Palermo, Sicily), and although his father, Tony Sr., was born in the United States, some of his siblings were born in Italy.
Montalbano, who does all of the cooking, cites the seafood preparation at Two Tony's as one thing that makes the place unique among New Orleans restaurants.
'We take pride in the grilled and broiled seafood," he says. 'We have fried seafood, but we're not like what you would consider a fried seafood place. We're known more for [dishes] like grilled or sautéed redfish or amberjack with some type of light sauce on top."
Montalbano explains that although the atmosphere of Two Tony's is casual his customers can expect food that's just as good as the fare at a more upscale eatery.
Two Tony's is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.