Scouting report: At Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar, gumbo soup and bolognese sauce are partners. So when this great family-owned and run place claims to have “the heart of Italy and the soul of New Orleans,” it ain’t lyin’. In Gallo’s nice and loose confines (where no-nonsense chef Tommy Gallo likes to meet his patrons), you’ll dig into handmade dishes from both of Gallo’s classic culinary inspirations (prepared with locally sourced ingredients and in accordance with the Monterrey Bay Sustainable Seafood guide).
Setting the screen: Amid the shuffled soundtrack of goodtiming Big Easy and Big Night-type tunes and bold and fun original paintings, Gallo’s has seven carefully placed TVs. Since these are clustered near the bar, that’s the best location for b-ball watching.
Kiss off the glass: Smartly staying on theme, Gallo’s features an Italian-brewed favorite (Peroni) and a New Orleans-area beer (Abita Purple Haze) among its 10 tap handles. There’s also a New World-heavy wine list, but most of the best vino picks come from Italian producers.
Slam dunks: Superior Chicken Wings — extra crispy because they’re brined in sea salt and not drenched in sauce — are a must. They’re cajun-spiced and plopped atop an outrageously appealing mustard-based sauce. Also wonderful are: ungreasy and unique cornmeal-battered calamari served with an olive salad and zesty marinara; crispy and creamy arancini; beautiful garlicky meatballs; and lean and mean housemade Italian sausages.