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

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald say the PUC went too far when it fined the ride-sharing company $11.3 million.
The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

Most people crawl deeper under the covers during a nighttime thunderstorm, photographer Dave DiCello does just the opposite.
Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

Not Surprising: 'Burgh Among the Best for New College Grads

According to a financial advising site, Pittsburgh is both affordable and a good place to find a job for those fresh out of college.
Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Hayes leaves KDKA TV after nearly 37 years with his legacy as one of the city's most respected, fair and accurate reporters – and his priceless sense of humor – firmly intact.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, 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

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
The Eaglets Have Landed

The Eaglets Have Landed

The bald eagles nesting in Hays once again have given birth to a new generation. We take you into the nest to see how quickly the two chicks are growing.
Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Severino's follow-up to Cure is already winning national accolades.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald say the PUC went too far when it fined the ride-sharing company $11.3 million.

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
Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

The much-anticipated Japanese pub from Tamari's Roger Li and Round Corner Cantina's Derek Burnell will serve food and drink deep into the night.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

The case against TouchTunes, the streaming music loudspeaker that can't stop screwing up the vibe at local bars.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

For the Steelers, this is a draft that’s long on need but short on intrigue.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Want to shade yourself in style at Derby Day and the PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon? Look no further.

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.
Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Reviews of "Mother's Day," "Keanu," "Green Room" and local film news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

You don’t always need blue skies and sunshine to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. One couple shares their advice on making the most of a rainy wedding day and what to do when the forecast is less than ideal.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation hosts a one-of-a-kind house tour on May 7.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

The Tech Savvy program from the American Association of University Women aims to interest middle school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Comments