Recently, I was #blessed with the opportunity to interview Morgan Angelle, the Chef de Cuisine at Pizza Domenica on Magazine Street, one of Tulane students' most popular restaurants. Upon walking through the doors of the Uptown establishment, I may or may not have told Chef Angelle I was fan-girling. Originally from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Chef Angelle is well-versed in Cajun classics as she grew up cooking family recipes like jambalaya, gumbo, and fried fish. It didn't surprise me when she told me she made the decision to attend culinary school since she's been a lover of food and the kitchen from a young age.
So how does one make the leap from étouffée to pizza? Even before culinary school, Chef Angelle knew she loved to bake. She got her start cooking pizza after partnering with a friend who opened a pizza restaurant in Lafayette, and she said that's how she fell in love with the process. After calling Pizza Domenica on a whim about 3 and a half years ago, Chef Angelle got the job and moved to New Orleans, beginning her career in the Besh Restaurant family.
Spoon: What is your favorite part about working at Pizza Domenica?
Chef Angelle: I just really like to make pizza. And I love that our kitchen is essentially in the dining room. So it’s a great connection between the guests and what we do. That’s probably my favorite part. We make great food, we care about what we do, and I love making pizza. We get to see the customers, be with them, and have that part of the experience. Not just stuck in the kitchen.
S: Tell us a little bit about "Pizza is Bae" Tuesday.CA: We’re doing half-price pizzas for college students because we love being uptown and being part of the community. I especially appreciate where we’re at and that we’re a neighborhood restaurant. A lot of our other bigger brothers and sisters in our company are downtown so they don’t get to cater to locals as much as we have the opportunity to. The best part about being up here is that we see the same faces, and we have regulars. And that’s everything from new college students from out of town or families from around here. We love having college kids around here. It makes us feel young.
She mentioned that she was just at a Tulane football game recently, which led to my next question.
From the World Series, to the Olympics, to the World Cup, Chef Angelle has seen many sports fans eating great food and enjoying the bar at Pizza Domenica.
*And then I got the chills*S: I have to ask– what is your favorite pizza you make here?
CA: That’s like saying which is your favorite child! It changes a lot. As the year goes on, different ingredients enamor us; we try to keep some things as seasonal as possible. We have a really great new pizza right now that we’re running as a special. It’s a pomegranate-braised lamb with goat cheese, banana peppers from the North Shore, and citrus yogurt. We’re also bringing back the clam pizza, which is a favorite from before so we’re excited about that too. Like I said, it changes a lot. The heirloom tomato pizza was a big favorite this summer. I truly love them all honestly– I don’t have a least favorite or most favorite. Sometimes I just make a cheese pizza because sometimes you just need a cheese pizza. It happens to me a lot.
S: You talked about college students and local ingredients, so I can only assume staying local and embracing culture is important to you guys here.
CA: For sure. You can’t have a great restaurant if you don’t involve the community. You can see what we’re doing, and we want to be able to see what you guys are doing as well. In the big picture, that’s what it's about. We have availability to great ingredients, and so we take advantage of that. There’s no way around that. Not only are our customers and guests great, but some of them also provide us with great ingredients. We get really wonderful eggs from a little farm on the North Shore. They come every Sunday, bring us our eggs, and stay for dinner. We get a lot of our vegetables from different, small farms around here as well. And they’re all customers as well. It works both ways– they come here, and we provide for them.
CA: It’s like a family here– that is always my goal. I am always looking for an exciting, fun, and pleasant atmosphere where you can enjoy really good food without it being pretentious or complicated. It is what it is; it's good stuff; you know where it comes from; we’re not ashamed to say where it comes from; and we want you to enjoy it and be a part of the experience. We have pizza classes and do a lot of stuff like that because the more we can be in touch with our guests, the better we will ultimately be.
After an awesome conversation and a quick pizza making lesson from Chef Angelle, it's an understatement to say that I was thriving. If you haven't been to Pizza Domenica, add it to your NOLA food bucket list. And if you ever need me on a Tuesday, you know where to find me.