To the extent people outside of Louisiana think of beignets at all, they likely associate them with New Orleans and its famous Cafe du Monde.
A national publication thinks they're missing the mark by about 80 miles.
David Landsel, a writer for Food & Wine, decided that New Orleans' best beignets aren't in New Orleans at all but at Coffee Call in Baton Rouge. His July 17 story criticized Cafe du Monde's "outrageously erratic quality standards" for beignets that sometimes are "flaccid, obviously raw in the middle. Other times they are bewilderingly dry, with sawdust notes."
Coffee Call, on the other hand, got Landsel's praise for its chicory coffee and beignets "cooked through precisely, not a hint of frying oil clinging to them, and with a nice bit of chew that speaks to fermentation, and to somebody giving a damn about the dough."
Although Landsel's sense of geography is peculiar — he describes Coffee Call's College Drive location as being on the southwestern edge of town — his story gets no complaints from management. Coffee Call owner John Cannatella wasn't aware of the Food & Wine writer's visit until learning about the story Wednesday night on Facebook.
"It came as a pretty big surprise," Cannatella said. "I'm quite appreciative."
Cannatella, 49, has been working at Coffee Call since he was 12. His father, Vince, founded the establishment in 1976 in the Village Square Shopping Center. Vince Cannatella opened a second location in the downtown Catfish Town development, and John Cannatella tried to expand to O'Neal Lane, but neither location lasted.
"When I was younger, I thought I'd have a lot of these locations by now," Cannatella said. "I'm just very happy in my one location. We're very successful here, and I just keep on riding the horse. Maybe one day we may go a little more national, but right now I'm just satisfied where I'm at."
Brandi Catoire — Vince's granddaughter and John's niece — is general manager at the location, continuing the family tradition, which includes the same recipe from 1976.
"That is one of the things that I really like about having the one store," Cannatella said. "It's so much easier in one location. I'm here almost all the time. Brandi's here a lot of the time. We actually have control of the quality and the employees a lot more than if you open up several locations and you're at the will of managers and locations. ... We try to hire the right people to keep a good atmosphere around here."