Discerning New Orleanians are skipping across Lake Pontchartrain to Covington, an artsy North Shore suburb. Here, the top addresses: Louisiana painter James Michalopoulos is the co-owner of Étoile (407 N. Columbia St.; 985/893-8873; dinner for two $54), a French-Asian bistro and wineshop. • Votive candles set the mood at Ristorante Del Porto (205 N. New Hampshire St.; 985/875-1006; dinner for two $65), for dishes such as homemade pappardelle with rabbit ragoût.• Locals get their daily gossip at Judice's (421 E. Gibson St.; 985/ 892-0708; lunch for two $18), a neighborhood café that serves a zesty shrimp rémoulade. • Area chefs pick up fresh provisions—sweet Ponchatoula strawberries, gulf crab—at the Covington Farmers' Market (609 N. Columbia St.; 985/898-4731), held on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. • Larger-than-life oils and mixed-media works line the walls of the Brunner Gallery (215 N. Columbia St.; 985/893-0444), a raw space that represents young Southern artists. • Eastco Trading (228 N. Columbia St.; 985/875-0739) imports custom furniture from Indonesia: sleigh beds, armoires, and planter's chairs.
Ristorante Del Porto
Husband-and-wife team David and Torre Solazzo converted the boxy St. Tammany Parish court office into a Cal-Italian restaurant in 2002. The walls still retain their original brick, but chandelier lighting and blond-wood accents give the space a softer quality. The menu is dedicated Tuscan-influenced cuisine, with breads, pastas, cheeses, and sausages handmade daily, and produce purchased at local farmers’ markets. The rabbit sausage and potato cake is a popular menu choice, as is the vanilla bean panna cotta with blueberries.