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Italian Done Fresh

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Brick Oven Cafe (2805 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 466-2097) is a place where diners can enjoy the upscale appeal of white tablecloths, hand-painted murals and good food in a laidback and comfortable atmosphere. Making diners feel like friends visiting for dinner is the goal of owner Keith Chifici, who reopened the eatery recently after repairing the roof and damage from a foot of floodwater during Hurricane Katrina.

"We're not a stuffy place," says Chifici. "Although there are white tablecloths on the tables, we're not fine dining; I don't want to be. It's casual." Diners can sit in a booth, at a table or at the bar that wraps around the kitchen.

Although renovations are still ongoing, Chifici says he reopened with a full menu, including the restaurant's half-dozen veal dishes, pasta, homemade pizzas cooked in a real brick oven, and lots of other choices that all start with fresh ingredients. "The menu is the same (as before the storm)," he says, "and the prices are the same; I didn't jack them up like others did. We just have shortened hours." Brick Oven currently is open from 4 p.m.-until Tuesday through Sunday.

Chifici's personal favorite dishes are the Margarita pizza-- a compilation of olive oil, mozzarella cheese, slices of fresh tomato and fresh basil -- and eggplant rigatoni pasta. "They're not complicated dishes," he says. "Nothing here is really involved. It's all simple dishes done well."

There also is an ample list of nice wines by the glass, including vintages from Italy and California.

Green Bazaar Green Bazaar Bazaar Gift Shop (805 St. Ferdinand St., 309-2288) opened in mid-January with an exhibit of work by local artist Joel Brotherton and will show other artists as well. "It's a place to show a lot of local art ... primarily from the Marigny and Bywater," says owner Bryant Wilms.

The focus of the shop is "versatility and sustainability," he says, and all the materials used to design the space came from The Green Project and Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, and the fixtures are made from found objects. In addition to art, the store sells a variety of natural products including candles, soaps, incense, body care lines and Fair-Trade products from around the world. The store is open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

The Margarita pizza is owner Keith Chifici's favorite pie at - his Brick Oven Cafe
  • The Margarita pizza is owner Keith Chifici's favorite pie at his Brick Oven Cafe

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