Casamento's Restaurant

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Casamento's Restaurant

Photo Credit: Peter Ferry

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History

Casamento’s Restaurant was founded by Joe Casamento in 1919. Casamento immigrated to the United States when he was 26 years old and began holding low-level restaurant jobs, learning the basics of cooking and how to run an establishment while simultaneously learning English and adapting to American culture. [1]

Soon, Casamento began operating his own restaurant in a rented space on the corner of Magazine and Napoleon. After a large fire razed the adjacent building, he purchased the lot and constructed the building that became Casamento’s Restaurant. Casamento spent the rest of his life dedicated to working in the shotgun-style building that housed “the best neighborhood oyster bar and seafood house in the city.” [2]

Casamento died March 21st, 1979 at 90 years old. [3] The restaurant has been kept in the family, and is now currently owned and operated by Casamento’s great nephew C.J. Gerdes and his wife Linda Gerdes. [4]

Atmosphere

Other than being known for its delicious oysters, Casamento’s is appreciated for its spotless veneer. The proprietors take special care in cleaning the restaurant and it has been referred to as “the most sparklingly clean eatery in town.” [5] The cleanliness is amplified by the fact that the entire interior of the restaurant is covered in white tiles and illuminated by fluorescent lighting. [6] The restaurant is small—two dining rooms with 33 seats, and guests must often stand in line while waiting for a spot.

Oyster Season

Casamento’s Restaurant subscribes to the popular New Orleanian opinion that oyster season does not begin until the end of summer. Put another way, “Oysters on the half shell should only be eaten in months with an ‘R.’” [7] Because of this, since its inception, Casamento’s has been closed during the summer months to ensure ultimate oyster quality and to give the Casamento family a chance to restore the restaurant to keep it in line with its spotless reputation. [8] Because oyster season coincides with hurricane season, there are sometimes disruptions in the supply of oysters. After Hurricane Gustav in 2008, Louisiana’s oyster beds were closed for three weeks. This led to Casamento’s considering opening for business without their signature menu item. [9] After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, oyster restaurants such as Casamento’s faced an equally large dilemma: Many of the premier oyster shuckers in New Orleans were displaced to places like Texas and Virginia and had no logical means or incentive for returning. [10]

Location

Casamento’s Restaurant is located at 4330 Magazine Street, near the intersection of Magazine and Napoleon Avenue.

Works Cited

  • Pitts, Stella. “90-Year-Old Joe Casamento Still Boss of His Restaurant.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 7 May 1978, sec. 2: 2. America’s Historical Newspapers. Web.
  • Pitts, Stella. “90-Year-Old Joe Casamento Still Boss of His Restaurant.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 7 May 1978, sec. 2: 2. America’s Historical Newspapers. Web.
  • “Casamento Rites Friday.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 22 Mar. 1979, sec. 1: 16. America’s Historical Newspapers. Web.
  • Price, Todd A. “Keep on Shuckin’ – Gulf Oysters Are Back After Gustav’s Surge Closed All the State’s Beds. But Increasing Coastal Erosion and Warmer Waters Continue to Threaten Their Numbers”“ Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 10 Oct. 2008: 32. Access World News. Web.
  • “Casamento’s a Pearl in a Squeaky-Clean Shell.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 1 Sept. 2000: 36. Access World News. Web.
  • Bailey, Frank S. “Heaven on Halfshell.” Review. Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 26 Oct. 1979: 9. America’s Historical Newspapers. Web.
  • Price, Todd A. “Keep on Shuckin’ – Gulf Oysters Are Back After Gustav’s Surge Closed All the State’s Beds. But Increasing Coastal Erosion and Warmer Waters Continue to Threaten Their Numbers”“ Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 10 Oct. 2008: 32. Access World News. Web.
  • Troncale, Terri. “A Taste of the Sea.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 14 June 2010: B3. Access World News. Web.
  • Price, Todd A. “Keep on Shuckin’ – Gulf Oysters Are Back After Gustav’s Surge Closed All the State’s Beds. But Increasing Coastal Erosion and Warmer Waters Continue to Threaten Their Numbers”“ Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 10 Oct. 2008: 32. Access World News. Web.
  • Anderson, Brett. “Shell Shock: It’s a Shortage of Shuckers That Makes Serving Oysters a Challenge.” Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 11 Nov. 2005: 23. Access World News. Web.

This page was last modified on 13 November 2012, at 08:12

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Casamento's Restaurant

4330 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70115