Located on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and St. Joseph, a Mano is another one of those wonderful restaurant creations masterminded by Chef Adolfo Garcia, along with Rio Mar and La Boca. I've enjoyed the wonderful tapas at Rio Mar and was duly excited to try a Mano for my 83rd cheat. I am still down a total of 79 pounds.
John and I arrived at a Mano for lunch on Friday and noticed there were only three other tables filled with diners. We were seated at a corner table next to a window and immediately offered menus and drinks. After listening to the specials, John and I made our choices and, with gracious help from our server, selected a couple of glasses of wine to enjoy with our meal. John got a red wine, an '07 Ciro Reserva Duca San Felice (my wine newbishness must be showing) and I had a white, an '09 Greco di Tufo Devon. So, I don't know squat about wine, but I know that I preferred John's to my own, it had a wonderful flavor that reminded me of cherries and chocolate.
For my entree, I selected the Squid-ink Cavatelli with crawfish, calamari and octopus in a light sauce of lemon, scallions and garlic. For the first time while eating pasta in New Orleans, I felt transported back to that fateful moment when I thought seafood pasta couldn't get any better. The cavatelli was perfectly cooked, though shaped into corkscrews, but the dense, hearty consistency was still present and accounted for. Also, I thought the dish was visually stunning with the white and rose colored seafood standing sharply against the black, squid-ink color of the pasta.
We finished off the meal with some cappuccinos and a slice of "Torta di Giandiua" -- a fantastic flourless chocolate cake accented with hazelnuts, olive oil and sea salt. This a Mano experience exceeded my expectations and sent me reeling back into memories of other great Italian restaurants I've been privileged enough to visit in the past, a feat deserving of a standing ovation. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together in a rousing round of applause for a Mano...