5080 Pontchartrain Blvd.
(504) 885-5555; cocinamizado.com
The bar at this modern pan-Latin restaurant always seems hopping, and the sushi prep counter across the room stays plenty busy too. Instead of sushi rolls, however, chefs here compose colorful, multilayered constructions from the contemporary Peruvian style of ceviche, including this atun tiradito ($15). It’s simply raw tuna slices splashed with a citrusy ponzu sauce and stacked with cool, thin panels of melon, cucumber and avocado, the bite of jalapéno and the toasty pop of roasted pumpkin seeds. Beautiful, bracing, complex and very light, it’s a compelling summer snack at the bar or a first course for dinner.
8801 Oak St., (504) 298-8689; cowbell-nola.com
Directed by a former fine-dining chef and embroidered with contemporary art, this diner out by the Orleans/Jefferson parish line has a unique twist on just about everything, and that goes for good old-fashioned American apple pie ($6.50). Served as a whole minipie, the buttery, crunchy-edged crust reaches up to not-quite enclose the molten apple filling, while caramel and bright crème Anglaise wait on the side. Of course, order it a la mode. Big enough to share, this dessert is also easy enough to horde for yourself.
Spaghetti and Wagyu Beef Meatballs
Dominique’s on Magazine
4213 Magazine St., (504) 891-9282; dominiquesonmag.com
With its creative cocktails, its sleek cool interior design and its back patio herb garden, this does not seem like the type of restaurant to order spaghetti and meatballs ($25), even if the brief menu description promises more than comfort food cooking. But this entree has been a set piece for chef Dominique Macquet’s menu for years now. Why the staying power? It starts with meatballs that are very dense but also tender, with a deeply beefy flavor cut with herbal freshness. The spaghetti, made in-house, is curly and exceptionally springy, almost like thick ramen noodles. Add a rich tomato and veal jus sauce and this dish is as gratifying as the promised concept, but with the bells and whistles of fine dining.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.