Sam Petrossi and his wife, Mary, both Italian immigrants, opened Petrossi’s Restaurant on Laurel Street in 1924. Mr. Petrossi lived in the adjoining structure with his wife, Mary, and five children: Charles, Joe, Clara, Frances, and Eleanor. As the children grew in age, each worked at Petrossi’s in different capacities, be it a bartender, oyster shucker, or restaurant assistant.
When Sam Petrossi passed away, his sons continued to carry the Petrossi family torch in the restaurant business: Joe took over Petrossi’s in the 1960’s, while another son, Charlie Petrossi, started the iconic Charlie’s Steakhouse. Petrossi’s Restaurant gradually wove itself into the culinary fabric of New Orleans as a neighborhood restaurant serving marinated crab claws, poboys, and traditional New Orleans staples. Joe Petrossi sold the restaurant in 1985.
Rather Southern, Slightly Sophisticated
Iler Pope, one of New Orleans’ venerable restaurateur-matriarchs of the 1980’s, adopted the space, bringing with her a new and eclectic menu every bit as eccentric as the woman herself. Pope let go of the older neighborhood fare in favor of dishes like Crabmeat West Indies and Speckled Butterbeans. Café Atchafalaya’s 1980’s renaissance mimicked a trend happening in many other New Orleans restaurants at the time: chefs were placing a contemporary spin on traditional New Orleans cuisine.
In 2005, the restaurant underwent yet another transformation, this time spearheaded by Tim Howard. He remodeled the interior using reclaimed materials left in the wake of Katrina’s fury. The result was an interior that remained reverent to the building’s pre-storm roots, while also looking forward to the building’s new place in New Orleans’ rapidly changing restaurant scene.
In 2008 Rachel Jaffe and Tony Tocco took the helm and shortened the name to “Atchafalaya.” The restaurant is now known as an establishment that embraces New Orleans’ culinary traditions while pushing boundaries. The introduction of live music, innovative food, and a smart cocktail menu begin yet another chapter for a building operated originally as a grocery, then a bar, and finally found its stride in New Orleans’ rich culinary landscape.
As a teen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Chris began his career training under a certified French Master Chef, Jean Francois Taquet. Soon thereafter he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Upon graduation Chris immersed himself professionally in the culinary intensive cities of New Orleans, Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York City. While in New Orleans, Chris worked in some of the cities most notable kitchens and eventually went to work at Emeril Lagasse’s eponymous flagship–Emeril’s for over six years, three of those as Chef De Cuisine. After Hurricane Katrina Chris temporarily relocated back to his hometown of Philadelphia, but his love for New Orleans and contemporary creole cuisine compelled him back to the Crescent City. You will find him now as Executive Chef of Atchafalaya Restaurant with long time friends and restaurateurs Tony Tocco and Rachael Jaffe Tocco.
Chris would like to acknowledge his valuable and cherished experience at Emeril’s as Chef De Cuisine in his work today as he passionately orchestrates his vision for a progressive, forward thinking, tradition valued neighborhood dining experience.
Rachael Jaffe Tocco was born and raised in Bolton, Massachusetts. In 1998 she moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where she attended Tulane University and studied Visual Arts and Business. Rachael relocated to New York City in 2005 where she began her career in restaurant management. In 2007 she help design and launch a restaurant in St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles. Upon moving home to New Orleans in 2008 where she met and married Anthony Tocco and they opened Atchafalaya Restaurant.