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NOLA rebirth to bring more Big Easy flavor to Market Square

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 6:52 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
The dining room at the newly re-opened NOLA on the Square in Market Square in Downtown on Monday, July 14, 2014. The restaurant is opening with new renovations and a few new menu items after a fire closed its doors for several months.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Sous chef Andrew Hebson of Whitehall, lays out bowls of NOLA Salad at the newly re-opened NOLA on the Square in Market Square in Downtown on Monday, July 14, 2014. The restaurant is opening with new renovations and a few new menu items after a fire closed its doors for several months.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Cook Mallory Aponick of Chippewa is seen through the R8 decal in the kitchen window of newly re-opened NOLA on the Square in Market Square in Downtown on Monday, July 14, 2014. The number refers to the 1902 Tavern which occupied the space years ago, and was issued the eighth liquor license in Pennsylvania at the time.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Nawlins Yaka Mein is served at the newly re-opened NOLA on the Square in Market Square in Downtown on Monday, July 14, 2014. The restaurant is opening with new renovations and a few new menu items after a fire closed its doors for several months.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Server Cody Baker, 20, of Downtown, stands in the dining room at the newly re-opened NOLA on the Square in Market Square in Downtown on Monday, July 14, 2014. The restaurant is opening with new renovations and a few new menu items after a fire closed its doors for several months.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Lights illuminate the bar at Perle, on the second floor of the newly re-opened NOLA on the Square in Market Square in Downtown on Monday, July 14, 2014. The restaurant is opening with new renovations and a few new menu items after a fire closed its doors for several months.

Management of a Market Square restaurant used a February fire as an opportunity to infuse even more Big Easy influence into their Cajun-inspired eatery.

NOLA on the Square reopens July 15, after undergoing renovations to repair damaged incurred Feb. 24, when a fire started in the kitchen.

“For those of us who were there since the onset of the first renovation, to do another one even better has been a lot of fun,” says Yves Carreau, chef-proprietor of Big Y Restaurant Group, that includes NOLA, Perle, Sonoma and Cerviche. NOLA opened in 2011 in the former 1902 Landmark Tavern.

“We've always loved it,” Carreau says. “Now, we love it even more.”

Pittsburgh Fire officials said the cause of the fire was a build-up of creosote in the duct work above a pizza oven. NOLA management says the city did not levy any fines against the restaurant or Big Y.

Renovations include installation of a new Pavesi oven with a state-of-the-art CaptiveAire CORE fire-protection hood system that includes real-time microprocessor monitoring and an integrated self-cleaning system.

Aesthetic updates boast a golden finish added to the tin ceiling and incorporation of art from native New Orleans artists adding pops of vibrant colors to the walls.

“It was less an issue of damage and more a way to use this an opportunity to really polish it up and bring it to a new level of beauty,” Karen Poirier, restaurant spokeswoman, says.

A second-floor space formerly reserved only for private events will serve as a speakeasy specializing in craft whiskey. Black-patterned wallpaper and club chairs add an air of masculinity to this space. The speakeasy will operate from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Next door is Perle, an upscale lounge and tapas bar open since 2012, featuring a wide array of champagne and high-end cocktails. The elegant space features a long bar and soft blue accents, in addition to a balcony overlooking Market Square.

“When we opened, we didn't know how much of a champagne crowd was in Pittsburgh,” says John Ajay, Big Y Restaurant Group's corporate beverage director. “It really took off.”

Executive chef Leonard Pisano seized the chance to add new offerings to the NOLA menu. They include an heirloom tomato and wood-roasted corn salad; potato-chip-crusted catfish; and a roasted-mushroom, spinach and ricotta flatbread with Cajun-peppercorn duck speck.

“We didn't want to change too much,” Pisano says. “People love the staples. But we're always trying to push forward with new ideas.”

Events celebrating the restaurant's launch include Jazzfest Week from July 15 to 19. The restaurant will host a different artist every night, culminating in a weekend music marathon that runs from 4 p.m. to midnight July 18, and noon to midnight July 19. NOLA's tradition of live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday continues throughout the summer.

On July 30, chefs Andrew Hebson and Pisano go head-to-head in a battle of the hot sauces contest to be decided by a panel of Pittsburgh celebrity judges.

Details: 412-471-9100 or www.nolaonthesquare.com

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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