The latest addition to the booming Bywater restaurant scene opened last week in the riverfront apartment complex Rice Mill Lofts. Mariza (2900 Chartres St., 504-598-5700; www.marizaneworleans.com) is described as an Italian-influenced neighborhood bistro, and it's the latest from chef Ian Schnoebelen and Laurie Casebonne, the owners of the French Quarter standout Iris (321 N. Peters St., 504-299-3944; www.irisneworleans.com).
Schnoebelen and Casebonne are aiming for a more laidback approach with Mariza, which they envision as a spot for an any-night dinner or a place for friends to share a plate of salumi and a bottle of wine. Most dishes are between $7 and $16.
The menu begins with crostini and bruschetta, meat and cheese plates and salads. There are a few pizza options, papardelle with duck ragout, black fettuccine (colored and flavored with squid ink) and a short list of entrees, including whole fish preparations. A raw bar features oysters and different types of seafood carpaccio, and there's a full bar. Mariza serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Mariza's owners are longtime Bywater residents and restaurant industry veterans who together made the most of post-Hurricane Katrina opportunity. Before the storm, they both worked at Lilette (3637 Magazine St., 504-895-1636; www.liletterestaurant.com), where Schnoebelen was sous chef and Casebonne worked in the front of the house. Within weeks of the storm, they began planning their own restaurant, and Iris opened in early 2006. Within a year, Food+Wine Magazine named Schnoebelen one of the nation's top new chefs. In 2008, they moved the restaurant from its original spot in the Carrollton area to a larger space in the French Quarter.