Grand (Shhh) Opening
Parking has been tight around the corner of Magazine and General Pershing streets since La Petite Grocery's (4238 Magazine St., 891-3377) soft opening three weekends ago. Joel Dondis, proprietor of the catering and events planning company Joel, partnered in this project with Anton and Diane Schulte, executive chef and front-of-house manager, respectively. The Schultes are best known in the business for their years spent at Peristyle, Anton as Anne Kearney's chef de cuisine. The corner building, originally a grocery store called Frank A. Von der Haar Fine Foods, and most recently a floral shop, seats 90; its soft, new look is meant to echo New Orleans French restaurants of the past. The food, in a press release called "modern, bistro-style fare," incorporates regional ingredients. Entree prices range between $15 and $20. La Petite Grocery is open for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Under New Ownership
As of Feb. 1, Aldo Marcon is the new chef-owner at La Riviera Restaurant (4506 Shores Dr., Metairie, 888-6238). The Saronno, Italy, native moved from New York, where he cooked at a number of highly rated Italian restaurants, to purchase La Riviera from founding owner Goffredo Fraccaro.
Under New Ownership 2
Vega Tapas Cafe (2051 Metairie Road, 836-2007) has also changed hands since the start of the year. The new owner and former general manager, Glen Hogh, recently gave the restaurant and menu a Spanish-leaning facelift. The bar area has tripled in size, and a daily tapas bar menu will include the likes of smoked trout salad, artichoke fritters and codfish cakes. Hogh also announces new Sunday dinner hours, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
The Happ(ier) Couple
After nine years as pastry chef at NOLA, Joe Trull will relieve his wife, Heidi Trull, of baking duties at her Elizabeth's Restaurant (601 Gallier St., 944-9272). Joe will continue to bake Heidi's signature Hummingbird cakes and lemon chess pies, meanwhile incorporating his own specialties, such as peanut butter banana cream pie and vanilla root beer marbled pound cake. I hope he doesn't change the spot-on red velvet cake I tried at Elizabeth's two weeks ago. The Bywater restaurant will open for Jazz Fest weekend dinners from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday this weekend and next. Cedar plank roasted salmon and smoked rib-eye steaks will come straight from the smoker the chef affectionately calls "Blackie." Dinner entrees range from $12 to $20. Reservations required.