REVIEW: Battistella’s – Raleigh
Battistella’s is one of the latest addition to list of restaurants at Moore’s Square in downtown Raleigh on Martin Street.It is run by Chef Brian Battistella who previously operated Battistella’s New Orleans Kitchen out of the Crabtree Inn. He gained a strong following in the Raleigh area and decided to move to a more prominent location in downtown.
I’ve been on the lookout for some good NOLA (New Orleans, LA for those that aren’t familiar) food ever since I took a road trip down there for a long weekend bachelor party (see the post from my food adventures down there). Before that trip, the closest tastes that I got to New Orleans cuisine was out of a box at Zatarain’s or from the drive-thru window at Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits. Don’t judge me. I am making amends and thank goodness I have a place like Battistella’s to help me through the process.
Battistella’s is closed on Mondays but is open from Tuesday through Saturday (11a – 2p for lunch; 5:30p – 10:30p for dinner) and Sundays for brunch (10:30a – 3:30p). They are serving a variety of different dishes from crawfish étouffée to Louisiana Crawfish Cornbread Stuffed Georgia Quail which sounds pretty damn good. They also have a po’ boy menu with various styles including the artery-clogging french fry with brown gravy po ‘boy which I haven’t had a chance to try yet.
I made it down to Battistella’s for the first time since it opened back in September for brunch with my buddy, Bryan. It was a bit of a cloudy day outside but we were able to sit on the sidewalk and enjoy lunch with about 20 other diners with the same idea. Luckily, we were able to snag the last remaining 2-top outside and enjoy the nice weather while getting our brunch on.
Bryan ordered the jambalaya (above) which had andouille sausage and chicken plus the trinity of 25% celery, 25% peppers and 50% onions which is commonly found in the cuisine around New Orleans and then mixed with some Cajun rice which may or may not have been Louisana popcorn rice. The stock had a lot of flavor at the bottom and made for a great spicy dish jambalaya that Bryan needed after taking down multiple PBR tallboys the night before. I tried a bite and thought it was fantastic with a subtle spiciness that didn’t overpower the taste and loved the fact that they didn’t skimp on andouille or chicken. I would definitely contemplate ordering it next time if I don’t decide not to start checking off sammies on the po’ boy menu.
I ordered the shrimp & grits because I dominated quite a few Blue Ribbons at Southland Ballroom the night before and was also looking for a spicy kick to my taste buds. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the Bloody Mary that I ordered. It was relatively small for $7 and nothing really to write home about. I think they have changed around the brunch menu from the one posted on their web site because I don’t recall any goat cheese in the dish and they raised the price of shrimp & grits to $14 instead of the $12 that is posted online.
The shrimp & grits were great. The shrimp didn’t have that rubbery texture that so many places serve these days due to overcooking them. They were crisp on the outside with a firm but not tough interior which in my mind is perfect. The grits were coarser than most of the local places that serve the dish and probably imported from NOLA as opposed to the less coarse stone-ground grits that are manufactured here. When all of that was covered in Chef Battistella’s “Holy Trinity sauce”, I think the gravy-like sauce won me over against some of the North Carolina and South Carolina style shrimp & grits that are cream based which can be too rich for my taste buds.
Battistella’s just added a barbecue shrimp po’ boy to the menu which might be the first sammy to be checked off followed quickly by the oyster po’ boy. I also saw a variety of appetizers pass by our table like the fried jambalaya balls and fried green tomatoes that looked fantastic. If you haven’t noticed, fried food is my downfall. A couple sitting beside us were partaking in coffee and beignets which could be a nice romantic morning out with your significant other. The historic aspect of the building really gives it that French Quarter feel making the ambiance that much better.