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Revisiting La Riviera

Two weeks ago, I reported that Aldo Marcon had purchased La Riviera (4506 Shores Drive, Metairie, 888-6238) from its founding owner, Goffredo Fraccaro. In fact, Fraccaro hasn't owned La Riviera for some time; Rovere Valentino bought the restaurant more than a decade ago and is still the majority owner. The young, Italian-born Marcon is now chef and part-owner, having only partially bought out Valentino. Fraccaro does still factor into the equation: He's been spending time in the kitchen teaching Marcon some of his old tricks.

Getting Wet

Now in its second month inhabiting Lebanon's Cafe's former spot, Shell Shucked Seafood & Oyster Bar (1506 Carrollton Ave., 861-1003) is discovering its signature dishes. Proprietor Kelly Hotard, who also owns Basil Leaf with her Thai husband, reports that her fried green tomatoes with warm crawfish-mushroom sauce is the best-selling appetizer. A salad made with mixed greens, lump crabmeat, choupique caviar and avocado is her salad recommendation, and baked salmon stuffed with crabmeat is converting even tried-and-true fried seafood eaters (Shell Shucked does have an extensive fried seafood selection, from shrimp to calamari to whole fish). Hotard, a New Orleans native, modestly resists calling herself a chef: 'I don't have any professional culinary training. I just like to cook, and the food here is like whatever I would have for dinner tonight.' Shell Shucked is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and is currently BYOB. (Lebanon's now occupies the former Cavallino space next door.)

Get Out and Eat

This Thursday marks the second annual Save Our Seafood: Dine Out to Limit Mercury evening of awareness. The coordinated local effort to limit mercury levels in seafood and to educate the public about mercury pollution is headed by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Susan Spicer of Bayona and Ti Martin of Commander's Palace and Cafe Adelaide. Dine at any of the following restaurants on Thursday, and you'll receive and informational brochure addressing the mercury problem in Louisiana and beyond: Barataria, Bayona, Cafe Degas, Cafe Giovanni, Cafe Volage, Commander's Palace, Dante's Kitchen, Fresco, Gautreau's, Hillery's on Toulouse, Jamila's, Juan's Flying Burrito, La Cote Brasserie, Lilette, Lulu's, Lulu's in the Garden, Martinique, Mat & Naddie's, Muriel's, Restaurant August, Saucy's Freret Cafe, Sea Level Restaurant. All of the above will donate a portion of the day's sales to the effort. For more information and a growing list of participating restaurants, visit www.saveourseafood.org.

Five Spot

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with sangria at Arnaud's French 75 Bar (813 Bienville St., 523-5433) from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday. The first glass is on celebrity bartenders Joyce Bryant of Clear Channel and F.J. Hebert Jr. of Entercom New Orleans' WWL 870 AM.

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