Most people probably assume that Ignatius Eatery & Grocery (4200 Magazine St., 896-2225) was named for Ignatius Reilly, the rotund and memorable protagonist of John Kennedy Toole's New Orleans classic, A Confederacy of Dunces. And though it is also the name of owner Jerry Roppolo's great-grandfather, the restaurant's association with a local literary legacy is actually quite fitting, especially in light of its commitment to indigenous businesses.
"We wanted to make it a place where everything we order and sell is a local brand," says Ignatius general manager Shannon Solomon. "And we've pretty much done that, except for the Romaine lettuce. We have to order that from California."
Serving soup, salads, sandwiches and Creole entrees from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday-Monday, Ignatius has also stayed true to the corner grocery roots of its location, which Roppolo renovated, adding extensive woodwork and shelving along the walls.
"He wanted it to look like an old grocery store," says Solomon. "You can buy all the groceries and everything." Customers can purchase popular Louisiana products such as Crystal hot sauce, Rex fil, Boscoli olive salad, Zataran's seasonings, Blue Plate mayonnaise and many others. The restaurant serves Leidenheimer bread, boudin from Poche's in Lafayette and Creole tomatoes, whenever possible.
Ignatius opened in July 2006 and has a customer base that includes tourists looking for a little local flavor and locals craving the same. "It's for people who want to eat good, Creole food and not pay French Quarter prices," Solomon says of the business she helped open. "We don't close in the middle of the afternoon, so we've had a really good response."
Look for fresh twists on old favorites. The muffuletta salad features fresh baby greens topped with julienned prosciutto, mortadella, Genoa salami and provolone cheese topped with olive salad, Parmesan cheese and focaccia croutons. Try the shrimp remoulade po-boy or the boudin-stuffed meatloaf, one of the popular daily specials. And ask about take-out orders and catering services.
"We don't have a Web site yet, but we have a My Space page," says Solomon. And guess who's at the top of the friends list? Why, Ignatius J. Reilly himself, of course.
- Some restaurants close between lunch and dinner, but Ignatius serves customers all day.