At 1000 Figs, Theresa Galli and Gavin Cady provide a simple and fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine. In many ways, the approach at their new Mid-City restaurant, Echo's Pizza, feels like a similarly thoughtful exercise in restraint.
Echo's Pizza eschews excess on the plate and in the dining room, where the minimalist decor features clean lines and blonde wood banquettes. In back, there's a romantic patio surrounded by flower beds and hanging pendant lights.
Echo's menu is centered on baker Kate Heller's pizzas, which are prepared in a wood-burning oven. Heller made a name for herself as the solo force behind Leo's Bread, a small-batch bakery that supplies breads to 1000 Figs.
Heller's thin-crust pies are akin to Neapolitan versions, made with a flour mix including freshly milled whole-grain flour from Bellegarde Bakery. Individually portioned, the pies serve as a canvas for just a few ingredients. Each pizza has a rustic feel; these aren't perfectly uniform pies, and that's what makes them beautiful.
The edges are puffy and raised, freckled with uneven pockets of char and dough bubbles. The centers tend to give under the weight of the toppings.
The burrata pie is a model of simplicity and proof that much can be done with just a few fresh ingredients. It delivers a sweet, summery pop from crushed tomatoes, pillowy knobs of burrata, heaps of fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
A hearty mix of mushrooms and wilted red onion petals top a pie that substitutes a red miso base for tomato sauce, and the effect is umami-rich and almost buttery, balanced by the slightest tinge of lemon. Lamb sausage adds earthiness and a Mediterranean feel to a pie topped with salty nibs of kefir feta cheese, softly roasted onions and a sprinkle of fresh oregano.
My favorite is the pork sausage pizza, arguably the most decadent of all. The crust is topped with braised greens in cream, garlic, salty Grana Padano cheese, bits of sausage and dollops of fiery fermented chilies, which help cut through the pie's richness.
Takeout pizzas didn't travel well as crusts seemed to lose their crunch in the box.
Heller's pies are the heart and soul of the operation, but her breads accompany a number of smaller dishes, charcuterie and cheese selections. Chewy, crusty and with just the slightest bit of tang, the bread serves as a base for tomato crostini, which have a garlicky herb spread and juicy cherry tomatoes. Whole loaves are available for purchase at the counter.
The pizza seems to take most of its inspiration from Naples, but the rest of the menu is drawn from across Italy. Golden suppli, the Roman-inspired snack of fried rice balls, ooze mozzarella with each bite, and a warming dish of creamy white beans with sauteed kale and sharp Parmesan seems Tuscan-inspired. There's a more local feel to grilled shrimp tossed in a rich and sweet roasted tomato butter sauce.
Echo's Pizza is a delightful and welcoming restaurant. A hybrid operation from friends, chefs and bakers, it also feels uniquely of this time in New Orleans.