Marigny (pronounced "mari-in-knee") is South Walton's newest restaurant and a place executive chef/co-owner Chris Mongogna and managing partner Jason Jaume have taken on as a labor of love.
As a salute to their roots, the restaurant's name comes from the name of a neighborhood in New Orleans that is adjacent to the French Quarter and popular with the city's natives due to its cool bars, restaurants, and music scene.
"The whole area there is called the 'Faubourg Marigny,' meaning neighborhood of Marigny," explained Mongogna. "Bernard De Marigny was an interesting man. We decided that it was perfect for us because of the restaurant's location, as well as our NOLA personalities. We hang out in the Marigny because we love the culture, music and food it encapsulates. Since we are tucked back in this neighborhood, we felt the name fit perfectly."
The neighborhood that Marigny is tucked back in is almost at the end of E. Hewett on Hogtown Bayou, similar to the New Orleans neighborhood's proximity to the water.
From this locale, the two guys who were best friends in high school in New Orleans, serve up genuine New Orleans-style fare such as shrimp Creole, crab-meat stuffed catfish, grillades and grits, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, charbroiled oysters, gumbo, crabcakes, and po' boys, for between $6.95 and $21.95.
Although their restaurant is newly opened, the two men are not new to the area. They are part of the New Orleans group that moved here in a caravan down Interstate 10 in 2007 following Katrina. The men have lived and worked here for the past seven years, with Mongogna being most recently Restaurant Fire's executive chef.
"I wanted to see if I could make it going out on my own," he said.
Mongogna's intention is to serve at Marigny the same kind of food he grew up on in New Orleans.
A self-taught chef, Mongogna cooked his first meal at age 13 — red beans and rice. He says he owes his love of cooking to his mother and grandmothers who taught him the love of Italian food, New Orleans classics, and Southern country. He appreciates the fact that food is nostalgic, can spark memories of childhood, or experiences of dinners past.
The Marigny gives Mongogna a chance to return to the dishes of his youth in New Orleans in a laid-back family atmosphere.
He believes pure Creole is a concept of Louisiana cuisine that can only come from a native and that food should be a celebration shared with family over memories, while creating new ones. Mongogna hopes The Marigny can be a spot for many families to share good times over great food.
Visitors to the restaurant will find that Mongogna is continuing the family tradition in his own family. His two daughters, Karley and Sophia are often there and love to stuff artichokes.
"Everything is made from scratch," he said, "and served in a casual atmosphere that is not stuffy, but laid back."
The restaurant's signature dish? Grillades and grits, says Mongogna, but he also gushes about the roast beef po' boy, and says he is stoked about the jambalaya.
Marigny is located at 306 Bald Eagle Road, just off E. Hewett, and is open seven days a week. Call 622-9101 or visit marignysrb.com for more information.