by Ian McNulty
Liuzza's by the Track co-owner and chef Billy Gruber has opened a new restaurant in Mobile, Ala. It's called French Market Café, but one look at the menu reveals that this is a spin-off of the Faubroug St. John tavern that has won so many fans over the years.
For instance, diners in Mobile can now get such Liuzza's standbys as BBQ shrimp po-boys, "breath taking" roast beef with horseradish and Gruber's gumbo with the oysters and shrimp added just before service.
French Market Café isn't a replica of Liuzza's, however, and Gruber (pictured above, with gumbo) and his business partners are striving to make it an emporium of the tastes people commonly associate with New Orleans food. The restaurant also has a drive-through window serving French Market-brand chicory coffee and beignets, and a "gourmet to go" section is stocked with various soups and gumbo. The restaurant's motto is "best of New Orleans."
Gruber says he drives in deliveries of po-boy bread from the iconic Leidenheimer Baking Co. several times a week to ensure the new restaurant offers an authentic New Orleans taste.
"A lot of people try to do the New Orleans thing in other cities and it doesn't work because they end up acclimating to the local stuff," says Gruber. "Well, we're going to be different because we ain't going to budge a bit."
The new restaurant is located close to the Mobile branch of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain, which began in the same Mid-City neighborhood as Liuzza's by the Track.
Gruber still lives in Mid-City and runs Liuzza's by the Track with partner Jim Lemarie.