Mariza is modern Italian meets Modern American by way of the Bywater, met with the major pedigrees of their noted chefs/owners. Inside the brick-and-glass digs in the Rice Mill Loft building, things start off brightly with yellowfin carpaccio and snapper crudo; follow it with the lamb meatballs topped with a tantalizing poached duck egg. Pastas haven’t failed us yet, and are served in small or large portions (though in truth nothing is too large here—a good reason to try more). The puffy gnocchi with spinach, and the husky short ribs with mushrooms and mascarpone over rigatoni rate highest; it’s the touch of a deft chef that keeps them lighter than expected. A daily special of a crispy whole snapper, unadorned but for a bit of citrus and herbs, is a bargain at $22. Communal tables are fine, but they could improve upon both the stiff, bar-height chairs and the afterthought desserts (when in doubt, always opt for a chocolate terrine; insert snarky seat-meets-dessert comment now). But we quibble. Mariza is a most worthy choice, particularly for the price point.
New Orleans› Restaurant
2900 Chartres St
Our Rating Neighborhood Faubourg Marigny Hours Tues–Thurs 5–10pm, Fri–Sat 5–11pm Phone 504/598-5700 Prices Main courses $15–$22 Cuisine Type Italian Web site Mariza