Drago's Seafood, New Orleans

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

This new find in my favorite epicurean city was wonderful. Joe Halm, my friend from our local newspaper, moved back to New Orleans in August and recommended Drago's. We met Joe and Jenna, his girlfriend, there and boy he made a wonderful call as I was suggesting Felix's, Mike Anderson's, Dickie Brennan's and the like, all of which we have been to numerous times and loved them. But Drago's, located in the Hilton at the Riverwalk, has a wonderful modern feel to it and it's bar was loaded with flat screens and plenty of local Abita beer on tap. Jackie was thrilled with the televisions due to the World Cup Soccer draw that day. We arrived a little early and were pleasantly seated in the bar area, away from the door that the 35 degree wind kept holding open. We sipped on Abita Amber, my favorite flavor from Abita, and were able to look over the lengthy menu.

From our bartender we found out that this was the second location of Drago's, the first was in Metairie and opened in 1969. This New Orleans location had been open about a year and a half. Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, a close knit Croatian family, opened the restaurant after his brother-in-law's original and his stint at Acme Oyster House, where he refined his skills at shucking oysters. When the time was right, Drago's opened. Tony Drago, his son, now runs the family restaurants with their famous Charbroiled Oysters.

Our bartender had two recommendations and it was hard for me to pick just one but I did, the Harradura Shrimp. Our waiter was pleasantly surprised I'd picked it out among the specialties on the huge menu. But first, I of course, had a cup of Mama Ruth's Seafood Gumbo (Pic #2). It was really good, it had the perfect roux and blessed with plenty of andouille and shrimp. After just a small amount of Tabasco, I was good to go. Jackie liked his gumbo, too.

For our main course, Jenna, Joe's fabulous girlfriend who works for the New Orleans Symphony, ordered the Stuffed Lobster (pic #3) with crab meat and shrimp dressing with a crab meat au gratin. Her choice came with a choice of soup or salad and she ordered the Ceasar salad, I was floored at this when there's a choice of gumbo? Of course Jackie ordered the Charbroiled Oysters (pic #1) that were perfect, he said. They are matched up with butter and Parmesan cheese, we guessed, then broiled. Delicious and gone in a short amount of time. My Harradura was so good I ate it all before thinking of taking a picture. I took the recommendation of the waiter and ordered a side of rice, which it needed, and he was proud to say there was no charge for it. I thought, well just serve a choice of a side because you recommend it and don't mention the no charge thing, right? Anyway, my dish featured shrimp sauteed with sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and onions, deglazed with tequila and served with grilled portabella mushrooms. Wow, it was obviously seasoned well with butter, and was perfect with the rice and complementary crusty french bread.

Joe ordered the Shrimp Etoufee and remarked it was good. He and I finished our dishes at the same time, I loved that! Dessert was offered but we declined as they were headed back to work and we were off to Jackson Square's Little Toy Shop for Chloe. I did have a cup of coffee that was hot and strong enough.

Drago's was a fabulous find on our annual trip to the Big Easy. I will have to partake next year, our Westin Hotel was located only a block away. The service was kind and attentive and the ladies room was clean, by the way.

Drago's, Hilton Riverside, 2 Poydras, New Orleans, 504-584-3911

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