RAW Oyster Bar
RAW Oyster Bar on the Bay beachfront is all about the freshest of seafood and sushi - plus weekend and seasonal specials. This new venue is perfect for a quick bite and drink or a satisfying feast. Did we say fresh?
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Lisa Monti and Ellis Anderson
Just inside RAW’s door at the head of the long bar is a bed of ice where plump oysters on the half shell, cooked crab legs and lobster tails rest while an oyster shucker nearby pries open bivalves and a sushi chef creates specialties to order. Customers can sit at the bar or at high top tables along the opposite brick wall. There’s also a bit of patio seating, which is in high demand when weather cooperates.
The RAW menu - listed by columns of food and drinks - is packed with a generous selection of oysters, boiled and chilled seafood and abundant sushi. Check the chalkboard for specials like Maine lobsters available on weekends.
General manager Drew Tomaszewski says RAW set out to become the best sushi place on the coast, and the key to making that happen was finding and hiring the top sushi chefs.
RAW’s chefs work for hours ahead of opening each day, cooking rice and prepping the fresh components for selections such the Ring of Salmon with blue crab and snow crab wrapped in fresh salmon and the Jalapeno Poppin' Spicy Tuna signature Roll with tuna, cream cheese, fresh jalapeno lightly tempura fried and topped with sriracha, eel sauce and wasabi mayo.
Our party of three cut a swath across the menu to get a good sampling of the offerings. We started with a shared plate of smoked swordfish dip and another with BBQ shrimp in rich sauce made for dipping with the accompanying French bread.
The photogenic Tuna Poke with chunks of tuna and avocado heaped into a martini glass topped with seaweed salad tasted as good as it looked. The house sushi rolls with spicy salmon were another hit.
We also went for the Beach Bum Roll, RAW’s most popular: the snow crab with “crunchies and cream cheese” topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce was a winner. Every dish we tried tasted fresh and was appealing to the eye, plus service was first rate.
RAW sells fresh local bivalves, of course, but also premium ones from such sources as Murder Point, Ala., to give diners a chance to try prized oysters from out-of-state waters.
The oysters at RAW are roasted (not charbroiled as is common). Drew says the roasting makes the oysters consistently good and the cooking time is quicker. Customers find that to their liking, he said.
The classically roasted oysters are prepared with roasted garlic and Parmesan butter, lemon and parsley. There’s also a spicy Diablo version, Southwestern Mexi-Cali oysters and Stella Bleu, again with roasted garlic and Parmesan butter plus bleu cheese and bacon.
Drew says RAW’s food menu remains true to popular items but also offers seasonal items to keep the selections interesting and fresh. It’s a practice that keeps customers returning for the oysters and sushi and weekend specials. “We’re not afraid to change the menu when we get an opportunity to put new things on it,” he says.
RAW’s drink menu ranges from Champagne and sparkling wines to whites, roses and reds to sake, beer and some creative cocktails.
RAW is that rare place you can stop in for a quick bite or an extended grazing session on seafood fresh from the source and sushi freshly prepared.
You Say Oysters, I Say Ersters
Writer and Shoofly Magazine editor Lisa Monti reminisces about her first oyster tasting, the beginning of a lifelong fandom for the delectable bi-valves.
- story by Lisa Monti
Detractors have trouble with the texture of oysters, or the notion of eating something raw. That must be even more off-putting to landlocked visitors than staring down at a fried soft-shell crab, with its crunchy legs shooting out from both sides of po-boy.
Fans of the oyster have no such worries when it comes to plump ones eaten raw or prepared in a well-turned dish. Without getting too Forrest Gump-ish, the versatile oyster can be grilled, charbroiled, scalloped, wrapped in bacon, baked, smoked, stewed, roasted, steamed and cooked into a dressing.
Oyster cravings get stirred up this time of year by cooler weather and memories of holiday feasts. A line formed in our kitchen when the Christmas oyster patties came out of the oven. Making them was a production, led by my grandmother, that involved a gallon of oysters and green onions run through a hand-cranked grinder intended for meat.
All the ingredients came together to bubble in a big Magnalite pot before being spooned into small flaky shells from the McKenzie’s Bakery on Chef Highway. A piece of art depicting an oyster patty hangs in my kitchen as a reminder of that holiday treat.
Of course oysters are available any time of year, and fortunately, you can find them on loads of local menus if not in your own kitchen. (Note to self: it’s frying time again.)
A fried oyster po-boy is always a good option, although sometimes choosing between shrimp and oysters can make for some serious internal conflict. The humble, almost sweet, always reliable shrimp? Or the oysters, delicate to the mouth, on the rich side (oysters Rockefeller, hello!) with a dash of extravagance. There’s a reason, don’t you suppose, that there are oyster bars and not shrimp or crab bars.
The last oysters that I ate were at C&C Farm to Fork restaurant on Main Street, listed on the menu simply as Gulf Fried Oysters, in a self-explanatory way. They were fried to a perfect crisp and served with delicious sauces, though the oysters were good enough to stand on their own.
There’s even a new festival celebrating the briny treats – the St. Clare’s Oyster Fest on October 13th (see details on our Upcoming Events page). If it’s anything like the church’s annual Seafood Festival, it’s bound to grow into a local tradition.
As a child on the beach trying my first raw oyster, maybe I didn’t appreciate how special that treat was at the time. But I’m mightily grateful now for all of the fresh seafood in the Gulf. Catch it, cook it, order it and celebrate it. Aren’t we the lucky ones?
Below are a few of our Old Town restaurants known for their oysters.
200 North Beach
200 N Beach Blvd
Bay St Louis
Open 7 Days
116 N Beach Blvd
Bay St Louis
C&C Farm to Fork
Creative and sustainable Southern cuisine
111 Main Street
Bay St. Louis, MS
Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill
108 S Beach Blvd
Bay St Louis
(228) 467- 3707
Open 7 Days
The RAW Bar
118 N. Beach Blvd.
Bay St. Louis
Silver Slipper Casino’s Oyster Bar
Fresh seafood appetizers and entrees
5000 S Beach Blvd
Bay St. Louis , MS 39520
Open 7 days
St. Clare Church Oyster Festival
St. Clare Catholic Church
236 S. Beach Blvd
10:00am to 10:00pm
Drawdown tickets are on sale now at the church—$50 per ticket.
Seafood, bands, vendors, a $5,000 drawdown raffle, and more seafood! Welcome the Fall season with tasty oyster dishes and "sides" like gumbo, potato salad, fried shrimp plates and poboys, crab stuffed potatoes, cotton candy, and more! Live local entertainment including the David Mayley Band (1pm-3pm) and Monsters at Large with the Moran Brothers (6pm-9pm). What a win/win--oysters and a drawdown!
The Parrot Head Bar & Grill
Chef Rickey Peters settles into his new Court Street kitchen in Bodega's, taking bar food to new heights with delectable sandwiches, tapas, and of course, his signature gumbo.
- story by Lisa Monti
Then, Rickey and Kevin Jordan teamed up at Rickey’s Off the Tracks in the Bay’s Depot District. That place was a smaller venue but it quickly became a popular spot.
These days, Rickey is running the kitchen inside Bodega’s on Court Street, another Kevin Jordan production, where the Parrot Head Bar has tacked on “Grill” to its name. Doors opened March 15 and fans, along with visitors, quickly found their way to the tropical themed Bodega venture that includes a liquor store, yoga studio loft and bike, golf cart and water sports rentals.
The menu is abbreviated compared to the Waveland and Zuppardo kitchens where Chef Rickey presided. It has just three categories: the Krewe of Sandwiches, Hola Tapas and A Bite of Cultcha.
Clearly, the New Orleans/Cajun cultural imprint is strong; Rickey got started cooking with renowned chef Paul Prudhomme, so the New Orleans/Cajun cultural imprint is strong.
Witness the rich Gumbo Ya-Ya, Cochon deLait and Chicken and Boudin sandwiches and the Banana Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce, along with the Shrimp Remoulade Salad with Cajun Remy Sauce, Rickey’s Potato Salad and Mardi Gras Slaw.
The Cubano - roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese and honey mustard - is a swirl of salty/sweet goodness. And there’s a reason the homemade dressed meatloaf sandwich tops the list of signature sandwiches. Fans say it’s the best they have tasted. Sandwiches come with the classic casual sides: chips and a pickle spear, dressed with lettuce, tomato and mayo.
Rickey has added some new menu items in the Bodega location. Tapas fans are enjoying the flavors of the Dollar Taco, the 3-to-an- order Cheese Burger Sliders and the Shrimp Salad Rolls (boiled shrimp mixed with Cajun dressing), also three to an order. French Pizza Bread, Wings of Fire and Chili Cheese Nachos round out the bites.
Not surprisingly, the restaurant’s atmosphere is super casual and the wait staff is helpful and friendly. Prices are on the hospitable side too. The most expensive items on the small menu are $9.95 (the Porky Pig, Chicken Club and Ferdi sandwiches and the signature Shrimp Remoulade). The Dollar Taco is at the lowest end of the pricing.
Soon, the outdoor eating space will be expanded. The addition of a large balcony in the rear of the building will cover the bricked courtyard. Look for Rickey to be happily minding the new brick oven and grill there that will be expanding his kitchen – and the delicious possibilities.
Parrot Head Bar and Grill
111 Court Street
Bar & Grill hours: Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to closing
Smokin' Jo's BBQ
A well-known local restauranteur branches out into barbeque and finds that just weeks after opening, many menu items have built a solid fan base.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Lisa Monti & courtesy Smokin' Jo's
115 South Beach Blvd.
Bay St. Louis
Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Just a couple of weeks after Smokin’ Jo’s BBQ opened for business on Beach Boulevard, menu favorites are starting to emerge and some new items are being added by customer request.
“The pulled pork definitely is the most popular meat item but the Bay Fries have already become famous. They’re flying out the window,” said owner Jolynne Trapani.
Since the barbecue restaurant opened March 13, customers have been heading for the order window at the shack in front of Buoy’s Bar for barbecue and sides. They’ve also been calling in orders for pickup and delivery since Smokin’ Jo’s is one of a few places in town that deliver.
The menu and the delivery service are part of what sets the place apart and the response has been favorable.
“It’s going well,” said Trapani, who co-owns Trapani’s Eatery just down Beach Boulevard. “It seems to me that everybody is excited that barbecue is back.”
And if conditions are just right, the restaurant’s large smoker sends the scent of barbecue in the air. “Some people have said, “We can smell the smoker from my house,” Trapani said.
Back to those favorites. The waffle fries, unique to beachfront restaurant menus, are topped with fresh bacon bits, green onion, cheddar cheese and pulled pork drizzled with secret white sauce and BBQ sauce. Dorm-bound Stanislaus borders are among Bay Fries biggest fans, Trapani said.
Brisket Bay Queso, another popular locally named starter, combines chopped brisket with queso, crisply tortilla chips with a dusting of spices.
Brisket is a special treat to smoked meat fans and at Smokin’ Jo’s it is served in slices on the Train Bridge sandwich (delicious, especially the burnt ends), on meat plates sliced with two sides, by the half or full pound and as an accent to BBQ nachos, another rising star on the menu.
You can also have it on Grace’s Barbecue Soft Tacos, which I did, along with one tortilla filled with that tasty pulled pork. The tacos are topped with mango pineapple slaw for sweetness and a spicy blend of sriracha, fresh jalapeño slices and just bit of BBQ sauce. There’s a lot going on in this serving and it’s all good.
If you want to eat at Smokin’ Jo’s you have options on where to sit to enjoy your food. Outside there are tables with umbrellas for shade, you can share a spot at a picnic table or eat inside Buoy’s. Wherever you land, the servers will deliver your order to you, along with Smokin’ Jo’s spicy vinegar and sweet and spicy sauces. (Plus napkins for sauced up fingers and faces.)
Next time, I’m going for the sausage, which comes on a stick as a starter, as a Salt Water Slaw Dog on a bun (two per order) and on a meat plate.
“The sausage is amazing, very flavorful, not all that fatty and with a crisp casing,” Trapani said. It comes from a Mississippi family owned producer with a long reputation. On weekends, you can try alligator sausage, but order early. It sells out quickly.
Smokin’ Jo’s recently added fried dill pickles to the starter lineup after customers asked for them. “We do it with crinkled Kosher dills served with our white secret sauce. The Koshers are crispier and more flavorful,” Trapani said.
Great news for ham fans. Smokin’ Jo’s will be smoking 10-pound spiral hams for every holiday, starting with Easter this year. If you missed the special order, you can get smoky slices for a short time in old fashioned ham sandwich with melted cheese served on bread toasted on the griddle.
Smokin’ Jo’s also does catering. Look for a ribbon cutting Saturday, April 28 at 4 p.m.
C & C Italian Bistro
An award-winning chef brings Italian food - not anything at all like your mama's - to Old Town Bay St. Louis and wins over diners from across the coast.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
It was a lucky coincidence to have lunch with friends at C&C Italian Bistro on Friday and then go for the much anticipated steak dinner with family on Monday.
They were two entirely different meals, both plentiful and delicious, showing C&C’s versatility.
Chef David Dickensauge’s arrival on Main Street last year caused a stir with news of his plans to offer artisan pizza, pasta made in house and rustic Italian small plates. Dickensauge interned in Chicago Italian restaurant kitchens and wanted to bring those out of the ordinary dishes to the Bay.
A key player in the renovated space is a special gas-fired brick oven, which produces not only exceptional pizzas but menu treats such as charred oysters on the half shell.
Pizzas come with such glamorous themes as Rockefeller (oysters, creamed spinach, bacon and bechamel), Scottish smoked salmon and Steak Gruyere (grilled filet mignon, Gruyere, horseradish cream, truffle oil and micro arugula).
Besides the brick oven offerings, C&C’s menu is broken down into appetizers, fish and meat, the housemade pastas, sandwiches and salads alongside daily specials.
Our lunch gathering tried a little of everything. The pizza option was Primavera, with olives, feta, marjoram, onion and marinara.
For seafood, it was shrimp atop soft polenta that was topped with a poached egg and crispy proscuitto. The Toscano sandwich was stuffed with roasted hampshire pork, arugula, cracklings and salsa verdi on rustic bread.
Two brick oven-roasted Hampshire pork chops made an impressive and generous large plate with extras to take home and enjoy later. My choice of pasta was the Tagliatelle with rich bolognese ragu and parmigiana, rich tasting and warming on a dreary day.
Everyone agreed that our Italian dishes, all different, were tasty, generous and nicely presented. And it didn’t hurt that Frank Sinatra was serenading us from Pandora.
Dickensauge has crafted weekly specials that might make you want to double down for lunch and then back for dinner in quick succession.
Monday is steak night with the $20 18-ounce ribeye or 8-ounce filet and $10 pasta dishes.
Tuesday is live music with various dinner specials, Wednesday is wine specials and those brick oven charred oysters and Thursday is a four-course set dinner and wine pairing. Happy hour is celebrated Monday through Saturday.
C&C Italian Bistro is open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Monday-Friday starting at 5 p.m. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Yamato's Steak House
Sushi, sashimi, rolls, hibachi and bento boxes: You'll find it all at Yamotos. And steaks. And seafood platters. You don't have to be craving Asian to visit and leave happy.
- by Lisa Monti, photos Lisa Monti and Ellis Anderson
Interest in the Yamato Steak House of Japan’s newest location (including the original in Hattiesburg and others in Mississippi and Louisiana) seems to be holding steady here. At a weekday lunch, the place was busy and the servers moved quickly to take orders and fill glasses.
Yamato’s has an ample menu - starting with appetizers and ending with desserts - covering all the bases in between. There are sushi rolls, hibachi lunch specials, dinners and combos, bento box specials all day, soba and steaks as promised in the name.
For a closer to home taste, there are even three Louisiana seafood platters with salad, fries and an egg roll as sides. We’re told that local diners tend to favor hibachi over the raw dishes but interest in sushi and sashimi is picking up thanks in part to some innovative specials.
At the heart of the menu are 23 special rolls with names like Shaggy Dog (shrimp tempura with spicy crab, shrimp and eel sauce) and the Fire on the Bayou (spicy scallop and crabmeat with tempura flakes, seared yellowtail, jalapeño and ponzu sauce on top).
The rolls range from $9.95 to $14.95 for the Alexander Roll (lobster, lettuce, cucumber, avocado, snow crab and special sauce). Most fall in the middle price range. You can also get any three of the 24 lunch sushi rolls for $10.99. Appetizers and soups start at around $1.75
Our table of four covered a sushi special, hibachi shrimp and chicken, a sushi appetizer and Yum Yum salad (raw fish, avocado in a crunchy sauce.) The special was Ahi tuna wrapped in seaweed, tempura battered and lightly fried. That one was the winner for best plating but all our choices were well prepared, plentiful, tasty and nicely presented by our server Brandon.
The tempura ice cream dessert, split three ways, was generous enough for four and it disappeared quicker than the house-made ice cream could melt among the whipped cream dollops in the corners and the chocolate sauce.
Customers who have been bringing in their own wine should know that Yamato’s is expected to have its liquor license soon, manager Ivy Wu tells us. Check first before you go.
200 North Beach Restaurant
Coast Cuisine - Oct/Nov 2017
One of Bay St. Louis's most popular restaurants has changed hands, and while the menu and décor have been subtly updated, the goal of pleasing people has not.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
Not much has changed under the new ownership and that’s just fine with the regular customers who remain loyal to their favorites at 200 North Beach, including Miss Ann’s homemade pecan pie and the always in- demand Angus ground chuck Bay Burger served on a brioche bun.
The look of the menu, however, has been refreshed, according to acting GM Vicky Bailey, and some new items have been added, including the deliciously rich-sounding double-cut New Zealand lamb chops ($29), which is something you don’t see often on local menus.
Another is beef Wellington ($27), marinated boneless short rib wrapped in delicate pastry, found on a list of local favorites that includes Ahi tuna, meatballs and spaghetti to fresh grilled catch of the idea.
The building itself dates back to 1903, making it one of the oldest on Hancock County’s waterfront. Over the years, the structure has gone through many iterations and owners. Most recently New Orleans developers Jim and Catherine MacPhaille and Chef Becton took over from Miss Ann Tidwell, well known for her gracious hospitality and for bringing the building back in 2011 after Katrina’s destruction.
For our recent lunch, a cup of hearty seafood gumbo led things off, followed by a satisfying slice of quiche speckled with salmon. There’s a Monday-through-Friday all-day local special and on this particular day, a Friday, it was blackened tilapia with seasonal vegetables ($12), all tasty and well seasoned.
The Catch of the Day (grilled triple tail topped with ginger glaze over a bed of rice for $21) is another reason to come back for lunch.
200 North Beach has built a reputation as a go-to spot for locals and a destination for visitors to enjoy a casual lunch, an end-of-the-day cocktail or a special dinner. There’s also an upstairs dining room and balcony for private parties.
Special events at 200 North Beach include Happy Hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday featuring specially priced oysters and house cocktails.
Coast Cuisine - Aug/Sept 2017
True to its roots while open to the interesting and new, Dempsey’s lures diners from near and far home to the Kiln.
– Story and photos by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
The multiple choices listed under appetizers, seafood, steaks, and chicken present a happy dilemma for diners, especially on a first visit. But for Dempsey’s regular customers — and there are many of them — it’s easy to fall back on their favorites: the abundant platter for two (gumbo, stuffed crab, shrimp, oysters, redfish, catfish and crawfish pies), the charbroiled oysters (Dempsey’s specialty), the famous shrimp and grits, or fresh grilled fish.
“It’s the same menu, but it’s grown at each place,” she said. “We even added Sunday brunch.”
Diane was following in her restaurateur father Andrew Marino’s footsteps in 2003 when she opened Dempsey’s on Coleman Avenue in Waveland “two years and two weeks before the storm hit.”
His restaurant, Jack Dempsey’s, operated on Poland Avenue in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans for 36 years.
After Katrina, Hennessy operated her restaurant for four years on Lower Bay Road in Lakeshore, and six years ago Dempsey’s moved to its current location on Kiln-Delisle Road.
Wherever the location, customers have followed. There are locals, out-of-towners, and out-of-state travelers who fill the dining room for lunch and pack the place for dinner.
“It’s very busy, especially on weekends,” Hennessy said. To keep things rolling along, Dempsey’s has an efficient, friendly staff of about 40. During a recent busy lunch service, several waitstaff joined around a table to sing “Happy Birthday” to a regular customer. At a nearby table, another server artfully handled a table of seven who wanted separate checks.
But back to the food. It’s New Orleans style — stuffed artichokes, frog legs, seafood platters — and plentiful and handsomely presented on each plate.
For our lunch, the seafood gumbo was rich, the fried shrimp poboy on chewy Leidenheimer French bread was wonderful, the tasty eggplant fries were crunchy and somehow oil-free, and the two large grilled redfish fillets were seasoned perfectly. The shrimp and grits topped with creamy Swamp sauce was something to behold and savor.
“It’s how my dad always did it,” Hennessy said. “He always said people eat with their eyes. I’m following in his footsteps.”
Hennessy’s kitchen prepares everything in house, including the rich seafood Swamp Sauce that tops the fried grit cake on the top-selling shrimp and grits entree.
“Nothing goes out of the kitchen that’s store bought. I take pride in the food and want it to taste delicious,” Hennessy said.
And while the menu is biased toward seafood, the Angus steaks don’t take a back seat at Dempsey’s. In fact, Hennessy said, the restaurant earned second place among Mississippi steakhouses in a magazine poll.
If the menu wasn’t packed enough, a chalkboard in the center of the dining room announces some delicious new treats: steamed seafood including Royal Reds, Dungeness and snow crabs, and — a rarity in Hancock County — escargot, a favorite of Diane’s. “I like to cook things you can’t get anywhere else,” she said.
Dempsey’s has 120 seats in the large dining room and bar area, but the place usually fills up with families and groups so reservations are a good way to get around wait time, which can stretch out to an hour at night.
And if the food weren’t enough to attract people to the Kiln, Dempsey’s hosts an annual Cruisin’ the Coast party. This year it’s on September 30 and will feature popular New Orleans performer Harvey Jesus.
Coast Cuisine - July/August 2017
Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill
Three generations of a coast family check out the new location of a popular restaurant that's a three-generation operation. The result? An exceptionally satisfying meal.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Lisa Monti and Ellis Anderson
Cuz’s is open daily at 108 South Beach Boulevard.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
A bit before the lunch time crush, we settled into a booth overlooking the courtyard seating, which was filling up as quickly as the dining room on this warm weekday with regulars, workers on lunch break, and visitors with shopping bags.
Cuz’s opened last year with a new name to reflect its new beach location – Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill – and polished up the popular seafood-packed menu with some new items like smoked redfish and tuna appetizers, chargrilled oysters, and pastas. The new grilled items are winning raves from customers while the old favorites, like fresh seafood served boiled or fried, are as popular as ever. The seafood is local and it’s cooked fresh.
We three generations – my niece Becky Monti Necaise, her daughter Emily, and me – bounced around the menu before settling on our favorites from the poboy section, where there’s no way you can go wrong. One half oyster poboy, one half shrimp and one half roast beef, with shared onion rings and fried sweet potatoes on the side.
We waited for our orders while visiting with other customers going in out of the dining room and talked briefly with Christy as she worked her way around the tables, checking to make sure things were flowing smoothly.
Cuz’s, she said, is a real family operation with the Barnes daughters and grandchildren playing a part in the day-to-day operation. “So it is definitely a family affair,” Christy said.
What’s better at the height of hunger than a properly made poboy on chewy french bread, fried seafood spilling out and dressed modestly with shredded lettuce, tomato slices and crispy pickles? Not much. The shrimp were fresh and tasty, seasoned and fried just right, as were the oysters.
The onion rings, something of a rare treat for me, were the crispiest I can remember ever having, and those sweet potato fries were as delicious as any side you could order. The roast beef, Emily reported, was juicy, full of flavor and piled high.
The new location in the French Settlement building also gave the owners some room to add offerings for their customers. Frozen daiquiris have been a big hit, and so have the gourmet popsicles handcrafted in small batches by Gulfport-based Pop Brothers. Don’t be surprised if the Cuz’s crew keeps coming up with new things to keep the restaurant fresh for its new and regular customers.
Coast Cuisine - June 2017
Breakfast in the Bay
Lisa Monti takes on a tour of some of the most popular breakfast spots in Bay St. Louis. Visiting any one of them is a surefire way to start your day off with a smile - and a satisfied appetite.
110 South Second Street
Bay St. Louis
Mockingbird Cafe, a local favorite since 2006, has outdoor seating and breakfast is served Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Take your pick of eggs your way, omelettes, frittatas, waffles, yogurt, fresh fruit and various sides. Not surprising for a place that started out as a coffee shop, the coffee here is fresh and served all day. Pick from espresso, latte, cappuccino, mocha, iced and specials along with hot and iced tea.
112 North Second Street
Bay St. Louis
The tables on the tiny front porch and in the shady front yard of Buttercup Cafe on Second are favorite spots for breakfast and people watching. Eating at one of the tables inside the cafe also is comfortable and casual for lunch and breakfast. And the fact that breakfast is served all day is another endearing thing that keeps attracting locals and visitors to the bright yellow building just off Main Street. Some favorites are the omelettes, pancakes and the roasted potatoes on the side.
Buttercup Cafe is open daily, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lulu's on Main
126 Main Street
Bay St. Louis
The breakfast menu at LuLu’s on Main is plentiful, playful, and reliably delicious, from the kitchen of chef Nancy Moynan. The Breakthrough Breakfast Sandwich (cheese, fried egg and ham, bacon or sausage on a toast English muffin) is getting rave reviews. There’s Lu’s Bagel, the top of the line “everything” open-faced bagel with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, red onion, capers and sliced hard-boiled egg. For balance, there’s low-fat yogurt & fruit parfait topped with granola. And for something that combines the best of breakfast and lunch, the fried chicken beignets sprinkled with powered sugar seem totally well worth the calories.
LuLu’s breakfast is available Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
315 Reese Street
Bay St. Louis
Sunrise Cafe is a cozy spot at the corner of U.S. 90 and Dunbar Avenue that’s often packed with locals, so table sharing isn’t unusual. Customers come in for the cooked-to-order breakfast (and lunch) dishes and other favorites including hearty omelettes, breakfast sandwiches and buttermilk pancakes. There are specials, too. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.
2400 McLaurin Street
Grammy's Donuts and More
308 Hwy 90
Bay St. Louis
More donuts can be found at Grammy’s Donuts & More, where you might find yourself in a long line at the drive through to get your order. It’s that popular. The donuts made here bear no real relation to the manufactured variety except for the shape. The texture, glaze and flavor will have you understanding you've never enjoyed a real donut before. It's hard to believe that such a divine dining experience.
The "More" part of the name means daily specials (a recent weekday featured shrimp & grits, and a pork chop breakfast), full traditional breakfasts, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches on fresh croissants made in-house ($2.99). Try a breakfast and then a donut for dessert. You can skip lunch and not miss it.
Coast Cuisine - May 2017
Beignets Always Hot!
Ana’s Cafe offers the best in tasty baked goods and diner staples in Waveland. And don't forget the donuts!
- story and photos by Lisa Monti
The sweet fried dough practically melted in one bite, a decadent reminder of how deliciously addictive a superior donut can be. And yes, the second donut hole was just as airy and fabulous, the perfect mix of sweet, salty and fat.
When our breakfast orders arrived, both were tasty and plentiful, just what the first meal of the day should be. Ana’s Special holds top billing on the menu with classic fare: 2 eggs any style, grits or hash browns, toast or biscuit. Add bacon, sausage or ham or pancakes if you need more fuel. The daily special was a hearty omelet built around spinach and mushrooms, with hash browns and a large biscuit for good measure.
If you prefer a sweet start to the day rather than a savory breakfast, relax and enjoy. The display case in Ana’s Cafe is filled with enormous cinnamon rolls, flaky Danishes, crispy shoe soles, rich chocolate croissants, strudels, turnovers, apple fritters and muffins. And beignets. Yes, beignets. As the sign says, “Beignets Always Hot!”
Lunch at Ana’s is standard hearty fare, too. The menu includes roast beef, burgers, hamburger steak, pork chops, salads, chicken tenders and wings and shrimp grilled or fried.
There’s also a daily lunch special Monday through Friday.
But back to those amazing glazed donuts that lucky customers have been sampling. They haven’t been on the menu, but they’re coming back. Ana’s will begin serving donuts on April 28 but only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can call in your orders.
Ana’s Cafe is open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
Coast Cuisine - April 2017
Local Lenten Delights
For many coast residents, the Lenten meals served at local churches are a blessing, serving up fresh local seafood at irresistible prices!
- by Lisa Monti
St. Rose de Lima
Looking for lunch? St. Rose de Lima Parish’s annual fish fry is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday during Lent. For an $8 donation, you get freshly prepared fried catfish with potato salad, green beans, bread and dessert. It’s available for dine-in and carry out at the Holy Spirit Center at 301 South Necaise Avenue, across from the church. Delivery is available for 10 or more. Call 467-9700 to order.
Our Lady of the Gulf
St. Clare Parish
St. Ann Parish
Coast Cuisine - March 2017
Dunk's Southern Style Buffet
Dunk’s Southern Style Buffet & Catering is all about being Southern. The Waveland restaurant promises “good ole down-home soul Southern cooking. Southern Food. Southern Style. The Southern Way.”
Owner Lisa Dunklin keeps that promise at lunch with classics like fried chicken, homemade mac and cheese, green beans, red beans and rice, fried okra, fried chicken gizzards, chicken and dumplings, cornbread, you get the idea.
The restaurant has been open for a year in the post-Katrina building that was originally a business incubator. The restaurant space is airy and bright and comfortable for enjoying a quick bite or a leisurely lunch.
The chicken, billed as Dunk's Famous Fried Chicken, was crispy, well seasoned and moist, the pork chops were fork-tender in a dark gravy and the mac and cheese was hearty. A fellow diner raved about the sweet potato casserole topped with tiny marshmallows.
Dunklin, who cooks all the food at Dunk’s, said the fried chicken is by far the most popular dish, followed by her red beans. “The fried chicken is our no. 1 seller,” she said. Her secret: the mix of seasonings. Like a lot of good cooks, she wouldn’t reveal much else about the process or ingredients.
And, yes, there are assorted cakes, pies and cobblers for dessert for those who pace themselves.
Prices for the buffet are $10.69 Monday through Thursday and $12.69 Friday through Sunday for adults. Children can eat for $6.99 weekdays and $7.99 on weekends. Carry out boxes start at $8.99.
Coast Cuisine - February 2017
Loving Up on Chocolate
- story by Lisa Monti, photography by Julie Ragusa
Thank heaven for the sweet celebration of Valentine’s Day in the heart of February, a month that tends to be damp and cloudy. And a special thanks for all manner of chocolate, by far the most preferred treat to share and savor on Feb. 14.
Not that enjoying chocolate is confined to this month. There actually are three official National Chocolate Days on the calendar of candy holidays: July 7, Oct. 28 and Dec. 28.
Chocolate fills our King cakes during the Carnival season, flavors the snowballs of summer and puts the divine in divinity fudge.
Not only is chocolate a comforting treat, the dark version has health benefits. And the taste, the melt-in-your-mouth texture is lagniappe. There’s plenty to love about chocolate.
“It’s addictive, like coffee,” said Julie Ragusa, executive chef at Mockingbird Cafe. “You’ve got to have it.”
For several years, the professional chef lived in Belgium, home of Godiva chocolates, where “there’s a chocolate shop on every corner.”
Now, she’s about to branch out into truffle-making as a side enterprise. The truffles come in two rich parts: a chocolate ganache center and a coating of high quality chocolate that gives it a crunchy shell. Then the truffle is topped with nuts, coconut or sea salt, taking it to another eye-rolling level.
For Valentine’s Day, the Mockingbird will have red velvet cake, heart-shaped King cakes and a double chocolate cake topped with chocolate truffles. Chef Ragusa personally will be making and selling handmade chocolate truffles in an assortment of flavors for purchase through her Facebook page or via Mockingbird Cafe. Look for prices and varieties to be posted soon.
Buttermilk Ganache (semi- sweet)
Cafe Olé (milk chocolate)
Darkest Hour (60% dark)
Black and White (white chocolate ganache with 60% dark shell)
Coast Cuisine - January 2017
Zone Meals To Go
Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi
- by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
It’s that time again, when many of us leap optimistically aboard the healthy lifestyle train with resolutions to do/be/look/feel better in the new year.
By a happy coincidence, there’s a new and convenient eating option courtesy of Zone Meals to Go, a meal-prep service offering low-carb selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks.
“Meal prep is primarily what we’ve done for the past two years in Diamondhead,” said owner Tonya Martin as she put the finishing touches on her new storefront in the Froogles shopping center on U.S. 90.
While we talked recently, several customers came in to pick up large bags filled with prepared meals while employees carted off other orders for delivery.
“And here we are,” she said from inside her new location at Zone Meals To Go Low Carb Bakery & More. The decor was the handiwork of Martin’s 17-year-old daughter, Jasmine.
The meals range from 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day so they can help with weight loss and are considered diabetic-friendly, she said.
Customers who sign up for a six-day meal plan receive breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks and dessert each day. The meals are prepared and packaged individually for pick up or delivery twice a week.
The meals change every three days to keep things fresh and interesting, Martin said. And customers can come in and enjoy fresh-brewed Coast Roast Coffee and hot tea, a cinnamon roll, or a meal at the cozy tables.
On a recent menu, breakfast was apple crisp, lunch included protein-packed parmesan chicken bites, dinner featured Salisbury steak with mashed “potatoes” (actually cauliflower), and desserts included a satisfying but not-too-sweet Nutter Butter parfait, and bread pudding with caramel sauce.
Customer Nancy Sorak was in to pick up her second order. She said she likes the size of the servings because cooking small portions can get complicated. “So this is great,” she said.
Sponsor Spotlight - January 2017
The Mockingbird Café
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson, food photos courtesy Mockingbird
Coast Cuisine - December 2016
New Year's in the Bay Lights Up
- story by Lisa Monti
The Starfish Café’s New Year’s Eve Gala has all the makings of a memorable celebration: delicious food and of course drinks, live music, a ball drop at midnight, and a silent auction like you’ve probably never seen before.
And it’s all for a good cause: raising funds to buy the Main Street property that houses the cafe.
“The purpose is to kick off the 2017 capital campaign,” said Di Fillhart. “By December 1, 2017, we have to raise $160,000 to buy the property.”
The cafe, known for its wholesome menu, is going into full celebratory mode for the gala.
How to buy Gala tickets
Tickets to the benefit gala are $50/person and include dinner, live music and complimentary midnight champagne toast. Only a limited number will be available at the door. Tickets available at the Starfish Café, 211 Main Street, from 8 - 5pm on Friday, January 30th. Or purchase online! Go to the Starfish website, hit the Paypal "Donate" button and simply put "NYE" in the memo box!
The Gala Menu
Organizers are working on other food stations, including one that involves a make-your-own waffle.
There will be a cash bar with a complimentary midnight toast and live music starting at 8 p.m., and a lighted starfish will be dropped by boom at the stroke of midnight.
“It will be an eclectic mix of food, subject to change,” said Fillhart of the ongoing preparations. But it will be fitting for a year-end celebration. “It’s the ‘end of year and my diet starts tomorrow’ kind of mix.”
“It’s a unique way to raise money and it connects the community,” she said. The winning bidders may become regular customers and make new friends they might not otherwise have met, she said.
The gala will be at the Bay St. Louis Community Center on Blaize Avenue. Tickets are $50 each and only 400 will be sold.
Everything will be eco-friendly right down to the compostable plates and glasses. Dress is “casual bling.”
Coast Cuisine - November 2016
Like Cheers, But With Red Gravy
116 North Beach Blvd.
Bay St. Louis, MS
Now Open 7 Days a Week!
- story by Lisa Monti, photographs by Ellis Anderson
I’ve eaten many a meal at Trapani’s Eatery since the original restaurant opened more than 20 years ago. So many, in fact, that having a meal there sort of feels like home.
Actually, the food tastes like home. Dishes like paneed veal, an old family favorite on Sundays, and spaghetti with red gravy - not sauce - trigger childhood memories.
And rightfully so. Tony Trapani and I are cousins - our mothers were sisters - and our maternal grandmother, Emma Carver, was a wonderful cook whose paneed veal and spaghetti gravy were on our Sunday rotation.
When Emma cooked, she deployed all the kitchen’s resources: spices, seasonings, mixing bowls, deep pots, cast iron skillets, everything but a cookbook.
Luckily, Emma’s gift for cooking lives on, at least in some of us.
Not surprising, with coastal decor and a bar named Blue Marlin, seafood plays a big role in Trapani’s kitchen. Starters include the popular crab cakes, rich gumbo and sesame ahi tuna. A longtime favorite is the fried green tomatoes topped with crabmeat and hollandaise.
Not to put too fine a point on the seafood connection here, but every Trapani’s entree salad comes with a seafood option, and the salad packed with crawfish will totally satisfy your craving for them.
Among the got-to-try entrees, Eggplant Delacroix is a stand out - eggplant slices breaded with Progresso crumbs, just like Emma used, and topped with sauteed Gulf shrimp, onions bell peppers and mushrooms then finished with hollandaise and parmesan. I know.
The kitchen also offers great steaks, fish, ample sandwiches and homemade desserts. If you try just one, get the divine Dinwiddie Delight. I believe it’s been on the menu since Day One, so if you’re a regular, its likely you’ve already gone over the calorie cliff already.
Sitting on the Blue Marlin balcony, overlooking the harbor, is a most pleasant way to cap off the monthly art walk. And when there’s live music on the balcony, well, a good thing gets even better.
Trapani’s restaurant and Blue Marlin bar are must-try destinations for Coast tourists, and for locals, both upstairs and downstairs are great spots for socializing with friends, old and new.
If you live on the coast, not everybody at Trapani's will know your name, but chances are lots of folks will.
Coast Cuisine - October 2016
Claiborne Hill Grocery
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
You’ve heard the rule about not going to the grocery store when we’re hungry.
When you’re feeling hungry, that’s when you should go straight to Claiborne Hill Supermarket on U.S. 90 in Waveland, where the deli staff starts work early, cracking eggs and cooking bacon and biscuits for breakfast.
Early morning regulars, including police and fire department personnel, line up around 6:30 or 7 to get a breakfast plate (two scrambled eggs, grits, a biscuit and either bacon or homemade sausage) before heading to work. If you’re on a leisurely schedule, you can grab breakfast until around 11 a.m., and even later on weekends.
After the breakfast rush, the staff starts preparing the daily hot lunch specials, which also bring in a hungry crowd. On a recent Saturday, the choices were barbecue ribs, pork sausage, brisket and red beans along with sides including fried okra, smothered cabbage and sweet potato casserole with praline topping. The red beans, made from the Acquistapace family recipe, are flavored with store-smoked sausage, bacon, and ham hocks.
Sandwiches (including muffulettas) are popular. Construction workers favor the hamburger combo with cheese and a side of fries.
If you want a generously stuffed poboy—served hot or cold—you can choose from oysters, shrimp, catfish or roast beef. Elizabeth said the roast beef with rich gravy has a big following. “It’s a whole fresh eye of round roast that simmers for hours. It’s truly a homemade roast beef,” she said.
The French bread for the poboys is baked in the store but here’s a tip: if you’re a fan of crispy Leidenheimer bread, just ask for it.
Everything sold is made in the store, and there’s enough variety that the menu stays basically the same, though sometimes you’ll find meatloaf or chicken and dumplings. The variety gets smaller in the evening but you can still get a satisfying supper up until 8 p.m. or so.
A recent summertime lunch treat tells a lot about the deli’s use of seasonal fare. “We had a short Creole tomato season but we had some pretty hot house tomatoes,” said Elizabeth. “So who can pass up a tomato sandwich on white bread with mayo, salt and pepper?”
Even though the price of ingredients fluctuates, one thing is steady at the deli: the prices. The 6-inch roast beef poboy is $5.99. A breakfast plate is $2.49. The lunch plates start at $5.99. “We try to keep it as reasonable as we can to give our customers good value,” she said.
There are healthy options too, with a full salad bar in the back of the store (by the seafood counter). For $4.99 a pound you can make a meal-sized salad with fresh fixings - including chicken and on occasion, boiled shrimp.
Breakfast and lunch is prepared seven days a week. You can call ahead (228-466-2610) to see what’s cooking and enjoy your meal at the counter in the front of the store where there’s complimentary Community Coffee. And check out the freezer section next to the deli for chicken and Andouille gumbo, bisques, soups, and casseroles.
Coast Cuisine - September 2016
Harbor House Steamer
Come by land or by sea, but come ready for tasty meals. The Harbor House's new management combines a fresh food with a knockout view for a satisfying dining experience.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
3410 Yacht Club Circle
Sunday–Thursday 11am to 9pm
Friday & Saturday 11am to 10pm
You know you can expect fresh seafood when the restaurant reserves dock space for customers who arrive by boat. That’s how they do it at Harbor House Steamer in Diamondhead.
Looking out of the picture windows in the spacious upstairs dining room, you get a sweeping view of the Bay, the marshes, and the boat dock below a broad porch where tables are available for outside dining service.
Restaurateur Jim McCann took over ownership of the Harbor House in February, which he found in his search for a waterfront restaurant after selling two restaurants in Florida. Now a resident of Diamondhead, McCann has made only subtle changes, mainly in food presentation. “We didn’t want to change the recipes or the menu because they were already so successful,” said Tim Marotta, who runs the front of the house.
By Sea (as opposed to the pork and beef that star in the By Land entrees) showcases whole flounder, Asian ahi tuna, trout almondine and stuffed crab, along with the always-popular shrimp and oyster platters.
Steamed Goods include some over-the-top offerings for a crowd. The Admiral’s Steamer generously serves at least 10 diners with five pounds of steamed Alaskan King crab, Royal Red shrimp, snow crab and Dungeness crab with charbroiled oysters along with drawn butter, though it doesn’t say how much butter it takes to go with all that seafood. The price is an eye-popping $499.95 and yes, a couple have been ordered, Marotta said. Couples, rather than crowds, go for the signature steamed seafood.
“We have sold quite of bit of steamers for two ($110),” he said. “It’s a good deal. You get a lot of seafood.”
Portions are generous across the board at Harbor House. Fourteen large gulf shrimp, lightly dusted and fried, practically filled the large lunch plate that was rounded out by the side of fresh broccoli and carrot.
The number one best seller, though, is the Scarlet Red Snapper, deliciously pan fried and topped with sweet crabmeat and hollandaise sauce. It was the “I’m getting that next time” item at our table.
Besides lunch and dinner service, Harbor House hosts lots of parties in the open area downstairs that can accommodate up to 300 guests like one party last month. “We get a lot of people celebrating here,” Marotta said.
Harbor House seats about 185 in the dining room, deck, and bar. They’re warming up the big screen TVs for fans of college and pro football to come enjoy the game with food and drinks. And the restaurant just kicked off a Thursday night special: kids eat free with the purchase of a dinner entree.
Whether you come by boat or by car, whatever you do, come with an appetite.
Across The Bridge
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Friends Of The Animal Shelter
Growing Up Downtown
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Legends And Legacies
Mother Of Pearl
Murphy's Musical Notes
Old Town Merchants
On The Shoofly
Shore Thing Fishing Report
Talk Of The Town
The Eyes Have It