Lunch with me is usually a decadent affair. Being an innkeeper, I usually have the middle of my day free so I usually settle on some restaurant barstool for 2-3 hours sipping a cocktail and endless glasses of club soda while I read the Wall Street Journal and make idle chitchat between articles with whoever is sitting next to me. The lunch I’m describing today happened at II Tony’s in Lakeview. This is how to have a four-hour lunch in New Orleans.
II Tony’s is a New Orleans neighborhood Creole Italian restaurant.
I rarely eat much. An order of shrimp remoulade should normally hold me over until the next day, but, for this lunch I had an irresistible urge for a full II Tony’s Creole Italian lunch. It must have been because I hadn’t been to II Tony’s for over a year, because of the pandemic and all, but the magic of the place just overwhelmed me.
What would I eat?
Some “Sicilian Marinara Favorites” on the menu are manicotti for $11.95, or zucchini parmesan $12.95. All New Orleans Italian recipes are Sicilian at their roots.
Keeping things light, there is the House Specialty Salad: Mixed greens, tomatoes, mozzarella, Genoa salami, grated parmesan, and “our own Sicilian Olive Salad.” There is nothing more New Orleans Creole Italian than olive salad. From such as that are great muffulettas made.
The most expensive thing on the menu is Beef Tournedos: Two 4 oz. filet mignon medallions pan cooked in olive oil and topped with the chef’s sauce of the day. $32.95.
Since I am writing about this episode for our blog to generate search engine optimization with unique content that cannot be duplicated elsewhere, this lunch became a business expense so I went all high hat and ordered the beef tournedos, justifying it by the fact that I knew full well that I would be bringing at least half home for Melanie.
I placed my order and went back to reading my Wall Street Journal. I was on the second opinion page of the newspaper by then and that always takes awhile. It would take me especially long today because I hadn’t yet read the first opinion page. I like to save the best for last.
After the lunchtime rush, it was a trickle of couples and mothers popping in the front door for a leisurely lunch. This is, after all, a place where people can linger over a four-hour lunch, maybe even longer.
Let me quote from my notes from that day:
“As I write this part of the story, I have been at II Tony’s for 3 1/2 hours. Where does the time go?”
Soon after, the beef tournedos arrived and they were delicious. They were so delicious that I couldn’t stop myself. I finished them. They were two perfectly cooked filets in bordelaise sauce, another New Orleans tradition. New Orleans bordelaise is not like French bordelaise. It’s Creole.
The bordelaise at II Tony’s is better than the one at Crescent City Steaks. I love everything about Crescent City Steaks and I will never say a bad word about the place but II Tony’s bordelaise is better. ‘Nuff said.
I ordered the tournedos with a house salad, which was fine, and capellini marinara. I should have chosen capellini aglio olio to keep everything in the same key, but, really, I don’t have any complaints whatsoever about this lunch. It was really, really, really delicious. I didn’t finish the pasta.
Everything about this 4-hour-plus lunch felt like neighborhood-level New Orleans. II Tony’s is very welcoming. II Tony’s feels like your good New Orleans home. I recommend it when you are ready to get off the typical tourist radar and visit New Orleans like you live here.
Speaking of visiting New Orleans like you belong—–you know where you should stay. We’re here for you at La Belle Esplanade.