In the mind of restaurateur Saul Bollat, dining should be a leisurely and entertaining experience among friends, and a neighborhood restaurant should be a gathering place where people return often.
At Salvatore Ristorante (3226 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 455-2433), the owner and executive chef endeavors to combine several aspects of entertainment so his customers will regard his comfortable but elegant restaurant and bar as a place to meet friends and linger for a while.
"I do everything that I can to please everybody and make sure the customer is satisfied," Bollat says. "That is my satisfaction." The chef began working at the restaurant in 1994, three years after it opened, and took over the operation in 2000 after the original owner retired.
The menu features Italian seafood cuisine, spiced up with Creole traditions such as Sal's Delight, which includes mesquite-grilled petit filet, fried softshell crab with lemon-butter caper sauce, and sauteed baby veal topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and mushroom sauce. In addition to traditional seafood and Italian specialties, the restaurant also ventures into more exotic cuisine such as rabbit stew, turtle stew, duckling dishes and rack of lamb.
"We combine a lot of the New Orleans traditions, like the shrimp Creole, crawfish etoufee and turtle meat stew with the Sicilian style of cooking," he says. "Our cooking (style) is from a long time ago -- from Elmwood Plantation, La Louisiane, Lenfant's, those types of places. Customers love it." He doesn't allow the menu to become stagnant, however. He adds things such as rack of lamb with kiwi mint champagne sauce to keep things fresh.
The ambience is romantic and inviting, with fresh flowers, a chandelier in the dining room, statues and a water fountain. Through the windows in the back, customers can gaze into a lush garden.
The lounge, which is separated from the dining room, regularly features live entertainment. "We try to provide the customer with better entertainment, better music and better atmosphere," Bollat says. To further that goal, he has organized a Louisiana Legends at Christmas show Dec. 23, which will feature Percy Sledge, Frankie Ford, John Fred, Jean Knight, Clarence "Frogman" Henry and Vince Vance and the Valiants. Tickets for the show are $35 ($45 for preferred seating), and Bollat is encouraging people to come to the restaurant for cocktails and a food buffet from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Then a bus will pick up concertgoers and take them to the Radisson Hotel, where the show will begin at 8 p.m. After the concert, the bus will bring them back to the restaurant for still another music show.
Salvatore Ristorante is open for lunch and dinner every day and offers a special fixe prix three-course meal for $9.95 to $10.95 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. There's also an evening special that provides dinner for two for $39.95 and includes soup, salad, a choice from seven entrees, dessert and coffee. In addition, Sunday features a brunch with all the champagne you can drink and complete dinners from a sit-down menu.
Fresh Mint Music
The Louisiana State Museum's free Music at the Mint concert series features pianist Tom McDermott and clarinetist Evan Christopher from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 1) on the grounds of the Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.). In that concert, the two jazz musicians will meld their talents to perform lyrical explorations of music that flourished before and during New Orleans' classic jazz era.
The Arts Council of New Orleans and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities sponsor the annual Music at the Mint series. For more information, call (800) 568-6968.
Right on Point
Renovators and people who just love to look at beautiful abodes won't want to miss the 31st annual Algiers Point Home and Garden Tour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 1 and 2). In addition to the tour, this year's event also will feature a Homeowners/Renovators Exposition, with about three dozen exhibitors. There also are other neighborhood events to spice up the weekend, including the ARTinA (Art in Algiers festival), Oktoberfest at Trinity Lutheran Church and the Pasta Festival and Plant Sale at Mount Olivet Episcopal Church.
Registration for the home and garden tour is at McDonogh Park at the corner of Verret and Eliza streets. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the tour and the last tickets will be sold each day at 4 p.m. In addition to the home tour, local restaurants and bars will be open both days and Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World also is participating in the tour.
For more information, call 367-9263 or 263-2578, or log onto www.algierspoint.org.
- Businessmen (l-r) Dan Martin, Jules Schubert and Amede Smith finish a meal at Salvatore Ristorante with libations and conversation in front of a glassed-in garden at the Metairie restaurant.