NOLA on the Square

NOLA gives Market Square a taste of New Orleans with Creole/Cajun cuisine.


Photos by Laura Petrilla

At last, Pittsburghers can have an upbeat New Orleans experience with nouveau Creole/Cajun cuisine and live music in a colorful, jazzy atmosphere. The recently opened NOLA on the Square is an integral part of the newfound vitality of Market Square.

NOLA is the brainchild of French-born Yves Carreau, executive chef and proprietor, in partnership with corporate executive chef Andrew Hebson. Carreau has a knack for bringing us the right concept in the right location at the right time, having found great success with two Cultural District establishments: Sonoma Grille, a West-Coast kitchen and wine bar, and Seviche, a nuevo-Latin tapas and cocktail restaurant. 

NOLA is located in the former 1902 Landmark Tavern. The partners fell in love with the space upon first visit and felt that it reminded them of New Orleans. “With both the food and the building, we are trying to offer modern touches while respecting old traditions,” says Hebson. “New Orleans has a deep culinary history, and those are big shoes to fill.”

For the restaurant’s interior design, general manager Jerry Fink teamed up with the chefs and Charles Stern, an independent local designer who also did the striking interiors of Sonoma Grille and Seviche.

Sit on the front patio where the hubbub of the restaurant spills onto the square, or have a seat in the gorgeous bar area, where you can admire the beautifully restored tin ceiling, rich woodwork of the bar and the fun, imaginatively tiled floor. After you pass through the bar, you will see the lively, open kitchen. Next, you'll turn the corner and walk into a surprisingly large, quieter dining room done in red brick and accented by dark wood. Throughout the restaurant, you can view the large New Orleans-themed paintings created by Pittsburgh native August Vernon.

NOLA’s menu features starters, soups, salads, flatbreads, casseroles and entrées; it offers dishes that you might never find in Pittsburgh, such as alligator and frog legs.

The red beans and rice is a great starter ($4, lunch; $6, dinner), with pleasingly firm red beans, white rice and generous chunks of tender smoked-ham shank. Another fine choice is the fried artichokes ($7, lunch; $9, dinner), featuring large, lightly fried artichoke quarters served with a Creole mustard and ranch dressing. 

Although I’ve never really cared for gumbo, I love NOLA’s. The Gumbo Ya-Ya ($4, lunch; $5, dinner) is filled with tender, shredded organic chicken, mild okra, rice and subtle file (sassafras) flavoring. NOLA’s crawfish and sherry soup ($5, lunch; $6, dinner) is extremely rich yet delicious; it’s loaded with sherry, cream and chunks of crawfish. The soups, in my opinion, are much more memorable than the salads I sampled.

Among the sandwich options, I tried the shrimp po' boy ($12): fried shrimp on a Mancini’s Bakery baguette with a ravigote (oil, vinegar and mustard) dressing. Also available is the Croque Monsieur ($9): smoked ham and Gruyère cheese on grilled, rustic bread served with apple butter and Dijon mustard (on this sandwich, I missed the béchamel sauce typically found in the French version). The steak fries (perfectly spiced with salt and NOLA’s proprietary Cajun seasoning) that accompanied the sandwiches were definitely my favorite part. If you’re not having a sandwich, you can order a side of them for $4.

Among the wood-fired flatbreads, a standout choice is the crawfish and andouille Creole ($11): a generously sized pizza featuring tomatoes, artichokes, tender crawfish, big chunks of sweet and spicy andouille sausage, and melted provolone cheese—all built on a tender crust partly made with a semolina.

I highly recommend the blackened red fish entrée ($22): a simply prepared, blackened white-bodied fish served on beans and rice with an accompaniment of homemade chunky coleslaw. The seafood jambalaya ($25) is like a mini paella served in a cast-iron dish, with rice, shrimp, scallops, locally sourced chicken and andouille sausage; rather than being spicy, I thought the jambalaya had a basil accent.

Throughout the meal, the service was capable, quick and friendly. During each visit, several people attended my table with generous smiles.

In addition to the large selection of draft and bottled beers (including Louisiana’s Abita) and wines that cover all price points (a $6 glass to a $600 bottle), NOLA offers a cool variety of New Orleans cocktails that you’re not likely to find anywhere else in the ’Burgh: Featured mixed drinks include the New Orleans Milk Punch ($8), the Hurricane ($9), Vieux Carré ($10), Creole Julep ($10) and drinks containing absinthe.

The portions at NOLA are large, but if you have room for dessert, I recommend the classic, slightly sweet (and not greasy) beignets ($7).  Another good choice is the creamy bananas-foster bread pudding ($7) served with rum sauce and salted-caramel ice cream. Pastry chef Kerrie Jean McMillen makes NOLA’s treats. Coffee, which is the perfect complement to dessert, is from Nicholas Coffee Co., NOLA’s historic next-door neighbor.

The restaurant has already received an enthusiastic reception from diners, including Louisiana transplants who dine there daily, and is packed during lunch and dinner. The restaurant is especially hopping on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, when there is live music. A nice touch: On nights that bands are scheduled to play, there's no cover charge; instead, you can make an optional $5 donation to one of two charities: Make it Right, a charity helping rebuild New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward, and The National Wildlife Federation Gulf Oil Spill Recovery Fund.

NOLA on the Square Info:
» 24 Market Square, Pittsburgh (15222); 412/471-9100, nolaonthesquare.com
» Mon.-Sat.: lunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; bar menu,
3-11 p.m.; dinner, 5-11 p.m.
» Starters, Soups & Salads: $4-$12; Sandwiches: $9-$12; Flatbreads: $9-$11; Entrées: $11-$15, lunch; $17-$32, dinner; Desserts: $5-$10
» Serves alcohol; major credit cards accepted; takes reservations; limited vegetarian options; wheelchair-accessible; no smoking; free valet parking or self-park on street or in nearby garages; gluten-friendly options available; will seat past 10:30 p.m.; offers catering/banquet services; outdoor seating available.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space form more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

The movie is the first non-documentary to focus solely on the pop artist’s life.
How to Build a Playground in Pittsburgh in Less Than a Day

How to Build a Playground in Pittsburgh in Less Than a Day

The state-of-the-art playspace is expected to keep more than 100 children entertained.
Funny: Sofia Vergara Describes Life with Steelers-Fanatic Hubby

Funny: Sofia Vergara Describes Life with Steelers-Fanatic Hubby

Joe Manganiello's wife told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” that she's learned to accept his Steelers' obsession but also admits “in the beginning it was kinda weird.”
Why Steelers Chose Christmas for New Uniform Reveal

Why Steelers Chose Christmas for New Uniform Reveal

It will be the first time the Steelers have worn all black uniforms.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space form more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

The things that are best about us? They’re not things. They’re ways.
Chris Kunitz: The Penguins' Unassuming Hitmaker

Chris Kunitz: The Penguins' Unassuming Hitmaker

Chris Kunitz wants to dish out a couple hundred more hits, play a couple hundred more games and win a couple more Cups.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

Oscar-Winning Actor Chosen to Portray Andy Warhol in Biopic

The movie is the first non-documentary to focus solely on the pop artist’s life.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dinette's Sonja Finn to Helm New Restaurant at Carnegie Museums in Oakland

Dinette's Sonja Finn to Helm New Restaurant at Carnegie Museums in Oakland

Finn and chef de cuisine Becca Hegarty to bring salads, sandwiches, house-baked bread, wine and more to the refurbished Café Carnegie.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

6 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Drinks With Some Spirits at Harmony Inn

Drinks With Some Spirits at Harmony Inn

The historic (and purportedly haunted) Harmony Inn is a fine stop for drinks and food.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pens Look Back and Ahead to Cap ‘Summer of Stan’

Pens Look Back and Ahead to Cap ‘Summer of Stan’

The puck drops for the opening of training camp on Friday, and once that happens the Penguins must transition from “champions” into “defending champions.”

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Work It

Work It

A new handbag from Sandra Cadavid’s is perfect for work — or play.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

If All Remakes Were as Good as Magnificent Seven, We'd Really Love Remakes

Reviews of the "Magnificent Seven" remake and "Storks," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

This Pittsburgh couple wanted their guests to be just as content as they were at their wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
This Weekend: Annual Wilkinsburg House & Garden Tour

This Weekend: Annual Wilkinsburg House & Garden Tour

Also: If you’re looking to redo a room to invite relaxation, PPG Paints promises a wide variety of soothing colors for 2017.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Duquesne University Inaugurates New President with Deep Pittsburgh Roots

Duquesne University Inaugurates New President with Deep Pittsburgh Roots

Ken Gormley began his new tenure by delivering good news to University employees.

Comments