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Now That's Italian!



A recent lunch special at Ristorante da Piero featured crab crowning chicken atop pasta with sauce. Eating at Ristorante da Piero (401 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 469-8585) isn't your usual Italian dining experience. It's more like being part of a leisurely celebration where a seasoned chef shows off his best dishes, the staff treats you like an honored guest and you get to hear opera.

The restaurant, which moved from Ponchatoula to Kenner in 2003, specializes in nouvelle cuisine from the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy, where the family of Piero Cenni, who owns the business, originated. The cuisine features housemade pasta, sausage and piadina (a flatbread), grilled meats seasoned with fresh herbs, steaks, seafood, a revered osso bucco and lots of affordable Italian wines.

"We do a nouvelle cuisine ... this good country cuisine," says Paolo Cenni, chef at the restaurant and the son of the owner. "It's very rustic and goes well with the wines we have.

"We do a great job every night for 80 to 90 people. I think it's a passion we have for this food. We don't have room for any mistakes."

It's definitely a family affair, with the elder Cenni owning the business, his son heading the kitchen, the owner's brother Giacomo Cenni ordering wine and running the front, and waiter Kevin Rouchell making sure customers are happy and serenading them with opera songs.

The restaurant uses only top ingredients, such as extra virgin olive oil, truffle oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano, in its culinary creations. "We cannot cut corners here on anything," the chef says.

"Our restaurant is very simple; simplicity is a key for us. We like the fresh flavors ... then we have a taste of the sauce on the plate. We want them to taste that simplicity and enjoy a great dining experience."

Head of the Class

Franco's Athletic Club (111 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 286-8801; is offering a new Drums Alive class that combines the rhythm of tribal drums with aerobic movement. Created by Terrie Ekins, the Power Beats class is designed for intermediate and advanced fitness levels. Franco's personal trainer Danny Benn says his club is the first to offer Drums Alive in the southeastern United States. Classes, which are held at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, are limited to 42 people.


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