Just over the city-line from New Orleans, way up on the banks of the lake, is a constantly buzzing Italian family restaurant. You can come for the spaghetti and red gravy, but it will actually be angel hair, and only be pretty good. You’d be forgiven for making that mistake. R&O’s looks like any old neighborhood red sauce place.
The real reason to come is for excellent Creole specialties, and some of the best sandwiches (don’t call them po-boys) served anywhere. The superlative roast beef-filled marvels benefit much from being willing to break a few of the rules that have kept po-boys poor.
The R&O Special is the most famous sandwich. It’s roast beef in brown gravy with grill kissed ham and melted Swiss cheese on a toasted sesame seeded roll. However untraditional it may be, the fresh roll greatly improves the sandwich, but it’s really all about the beef. It is simmered longer, and with gravy thicker and spicier than most. You almost want to just eat the tender beef off of the bread with a spoon. Many regulars forgo the R&O Special in favor of a plain roast beef sandwich with no dressings, but we like the way the beef plays with the other ingredients, so we get ours as a special, all-dressed.
For Creole classics, gumbo rivals the best in town. It is thick and harmonious with a dark roux. A cup satisfies the craving, and ranks as one of the best of many on our trip through Louisiana.
Shrimp remoulade is the most essential dish. Tender poached, ice-cold shrimp and zesty Creole mustard dressing make this interpretation one of our all-time favorite shrimp salads. It’s somewhere between a shrimp cocktail and a shrimp Louie, and is entirely delicious.
The combination of a the roast beef sandwich and shrimp remolaude salad makes for one of the most exciting lunches in the New Orleans area. We think of it as an affordable, surf-and-turf with real Creole flavor.